Sallie Ann Robinson is known for her cooking and writing, but food was just a small portion of her presentation in Bryan County.
In a wide-ranging presentation March 10 at the Bryan County Board of Education building in Black Creek, Robinson talked about growing up in Gullah culture, child rearing, learning from a famed author and, of course, food.
According to SallieAnnCooks.ning.com, Robinson is from Daufuskie Island, South Carolina, which is part of the area of the Southeast inhabited by Gullah. She described growing up poor there, but not knowing it because they “had ways of doing things.” It was a tight-knit community where people trusted each other, she said, and messages got from person to person “quicker than any phone could.” She also said her first doll was made from a Nehi soda bottle — a symbol of how creative they were.
Daufuskie Island was the type of area where a midwife was married to the undertaker.
“They had us coming and going,” she said.
Robinson also discussed the discipline she received growing up, invoking the phrase, “Spare the rod, spoil the child.”
“Can we get the rod back?” she said with a chuckle, a statement that drew applause from the audience.
Robinson said that even at 57, she uses “ma’am” and “sir” frequently.
“That is lost today, and it’s sad,” Robinson said.
She talked about one of her recipes known as Runaway Fried Chicken, which got its name from her first experience trying to wring a chicken’s neck. Robinson said that when she was 11 or 12, she watched her mother do it and thought the act was about getting the chicken dizzy, not actually breaking its neck. When Robinson got done whipping the chicken around, the bird hit the ground and ran off.
Robinson also talked about her memories of author Pat Conroy, who recently died. Conroy, who would go on to write “The Great Santini” and “The Prince of Tides,” was Robinson’s teacher in grade school at one time and used her as inspiration for the character of Ethel in another of his books, “The Water is Wide.” Robinson praised Conroy for opening the students’ worlds. He eventually wrote the foreword to one of her books.
According to SallieAnnCooks.ning.com, she has appeared on The 700 Club, Food Network and The QVC Show, among other TV broadcasts. Her books are “Gullah Home Cooking the Daufuskie Way” and “Cooking the Gullah Way, Morning, Noon, and Night.”