IUKA – Donnie Williams wouldn’t have any idea how to cook for just two or three people. But he’s right at home preparing meals for 30 or 40.
“I always cook for a bunch,” said Williams, 66. “I do better at that than anything else.”
Williams is the veterans service officer for the Tishomingo County Veterans Service Office in Iuka. At least once a week, he cooks a meal for everyone in the Tishomingo County Courthouse who cares to eat.
“I cook what I want to eat, whatever hits me in the mouth,” said the father of three and grandfather of seven. “I pretty much know what everybody up here likes to eat by now.”
Often, he’ll cook a big pot of beans or soup or stew. Sometimes, he grills rib-eye steaks; sometimes he cooks big juicy hamburgers.
But always, always, he’s got to make his cornbread. (He has no specific recipe, but he allowed he does put lard and cracklings in it.)
“Everybody here likes my cornbread,” he said. “Now, I’m not bragging. That’s just the way it is.”
Once Williams decides what he wants to make, he’ll start cooking the meat the day before he plans to serve it. And then when it’s ready, he’ll have everybody from secretaries to tax collectors to judges to janitors lining up to get a plate of food.
“Lunch just makes the workplace better,” he said. “Everybody enjoys it. You gotta be here anyway. May as well make it fun.”
Learned from his father
Williams is also part of a cooking team at Mt. Evergreen United Methodist Church, where he and his wife, Dora, worship.
“We cook at church every week,” he said. “We have teams of about five people each. I’m the head of one team. We usually feed about 85 people or so.”
Last week, Williams’ team prepared Italian Beef on French bread and served the sandwiches with chips.
“All of my recipes I do until they do right for me,” he said. “And I don’t do anything at all sweet. I never have tried, to be honest.”
Williams learned how to cook from his father, the late Frank R. Williams of Iuka.
“Mama had tuberculosis when I was 6 or 7 and went to a sanitarium in Magee, so Dad cooked,” Williams said. “She got cured and came home, but by that time, he was already used to cooking.”
Williams joined the Army at 17 and spent time in France, Germany and Italy. He came home to Iuka at age 20, only to find there were no jobs.
So he and his brother and some other guys from his neighborhood all moved to Illinois and got a place together to live.
“There was clothes to wash and dishes to do and housekeeping,” Williams said. “But if you cooked, you didn’t have to clean or anything. So guess what? I cooked.”
Do you know a good cook? Send your nominations to Ginna Parsons, Cook of the Week, P.O. Box 909, Tupelo, MS 38802. Or you can fax them to (662) 842-2233 or e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal