By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal
KOSSUTH – In May, after 41 years of teaching fourth-grade students at Kossuth Elementary, Anthia Follin King finally retired.
“I didn’t want to retire, but I thought it was time,” said King, 69. “Somebody else needed my job. Now, the principal has called and asked me to come back part time, so I guess I will.”
In the meantime, while she has the summer off, the grandmother of two is going to make the most of her break by getting back in the kitchen.
“I cook sporadically now, because the kids and the grandkids and I are going in all different directions,” King said. “I’m very much a part of my granddaughters’ lives. They’re both athletically and academically gifted.”
But every three or four months, someone will say, “It’s time for Mexican food, Mama,” and King will rise to the occasion and prepare a feast from scratch.
“They know that it’s a full day of cooking and very time-consuming to prepare the various dishes I make,” she said.
A full meal consists of tacos, soft shell and hard shell made from meal and flour, green Mexican salad, chicken enchiladas, cheese/onion enchiladas, half and half, Spanish rice, pinto beans and refried beans. If she’s feeling particularly industrious, she’ll make sopapillas for dessert.
King likes to tell the story of how she learned to make authentic Mexican food.
“About 50 years ago, a family moved to Kossuth from west Texas,” King said. “The lady of the family had grown up in Texas and had enjoyed the unique cuisine all her life. No one in Kossuth had ever heard of Mexican food before – this was before the time of Mi Toro – so this very hospitable young lady began cooking and entertaining her new ‘backwoods’ friends.”
King said the woman didn’t have any recipes – she just used a little of this and a little of that from her spice collection. When she died unexpectedly at an early age, she left no recipes behind.
“With my greatest effort, I cannot ‘hold a light’ to my friend’s cooking, but she would be proud to know I am continuing to follow in her chef-like footsteps – and without a recipe,” King said.
While King may prepare traditional Mexican food, she’s not very traditional in other ways. For instance, she and her second husband, Charles, enjoy getting on their Honda Goldwing motorcycle and traveling wherever their fancy takes them.
“We’ve been to the Florida Keys and we’ve been out to Montana,” she said. “We belong to a motorcycle chapter, and we might ride all day just to go to one place in particular and eat. When the kids at school see me on it, they think that is so cool. They can’t believe it.”
The motorcycle is one way King has learned to enjoy her life – and every day she is given to live it.
“I tell my students to live every day to its fullest – don’t miss any opportunity they’re afforded,” she said. “Because we don’t travel through this life but one time.”
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 email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.