Food with Mark Bittman: Toya Boudy
A shining star of New Orleans opens up about struggle meals, tourist food in her hometown, and the power of tough love
I really couldn’t be more pleased to tell you that today’s guest on Food with Mark Bittman is chef and total dynamo Toya Boudy.
Toya, whose fantastic book, Cooking for the Culture, came out just this month, grew up in an inspiringly happy family, with two wonderful parents who raised their kids with love — and tough love, both. Money was tight, but meals were a big priority, and early on Toya was taught the virtues of home cooking. When her grades were bad and she decided to get a job, her mom said to her, “It’s good you need to work, because at the rate you’re going, you’re going to need to know how to work hard.” Well, she did.
“When people ask me to name my top restaurants - I'm still boogie down, I still like to eat at corner stores and stuff, holes in the wall. It's comfort for me.” — Toya Boudy
Toya’s first job was cooking at the corner store, and in New Orleans, the corner stores offer a huge variety of different foods. She was 15. You’ll hear about all of this. That’s how she got her start cooking, and she hasn’t stopped, becoming a bona fide star along the way. She’s appeared on plenty of tv: Guy's Grocery Games, TLC, Food Network. She was crowned Best Home Cook by Hallmark's Home & Family Channel, and is an ambassador for the New Orleans Multicultural Tourism Network.
Toya is warm and funny and thoughtful, and Kate and I absolutely loved talking with her — you’ll be able to tell.
Here’s our weekly plea to review Food on Apple, if you can. Toya’s recipe for Eggs & Rice, which was featured on the podcast, is below. Thanks for listening.
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Eggs & Rice
Makes: 3 servings
Any local who grew up in the 1980s and ’90s would agree that Eggs & Rice is a quick kitchen gem. If you didn’t want to eat what was cooked, or if you didn’t feel like making a sandwich, you made Eggs & Rice. My mom always kept a Pyrex dish filled with cooked rice because we ate a lot of meals with rice and then half the job was already done. I loved getting creative as a kid, adding green onions or cut-up pieces of luncheon meat if I was feeling fancy-schmancy. But the original is my favorite. Even now I’ll make a big pan and it’s something everyone’s always in the mood for, day or night. — Cooking for the Culture
3 tablespoons salted butter, more if needed
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 tablespoon milk
4 cups cooked rice
Salt and pepper to taste
Cajun or Creole seasoning (optional)
1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a large skillet and add the green onions. Sauté until fragrant, about 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and milk in a bowl. Add to the butter and onions in the skillet and begin to scramble.
3. Halfway through being done, add the rice and begin to scramble them all together until the eggs are fully cooked. This should take 6 to 7 minutes to make sure the rest of the egg is cooked and the rice is fully heated.
4. Season to taste with salt and pepper or Cajun seasoning, if using. You can also add extra butter if you like at the end; that’s fine too! Serve and enjoy!
— Recipe from Cooking for the Culture
Especially fresh eggs from down the hill and back home again, altogether with previously baked brown rice, sweet butter etc. . . . evening meal and a good seat by the wood stove. Plenty to share! Gratitude beyond measure for all the know how and dedicated hard work, the nuts and bolts of my “simple” existence.