About Mother Waddles
The recipes on this page are based on the Mother Waddles Cookbook, written in 1970 in Detroit. We can’t go back to that time. But we can understand it better through the food in this book. Chef: Charlesetta Waddles, or Mother Waddles, could squeeze the greatness out of anyone, out of anything, even her food. She was best known as the CEO of Mother Waddles Perpetual Mission, a non-profit that still provides comprehensive social services in Detroit. But she also wrote two cookbooks filled with food that pushes boundaries with common ingredients.
Can you believe this? She ran a $0.35 cent restaurant where you could get a meal with white tablecloths and uniformed servers and everything, for just a quarter and a dime. Of course, those who could afford it paid more as a donation to the Mission. But the food she made was accessible to the needy but also special enough to be enjoyed by 70s foodies. People were paying up to $3 for just a cup of coffee in her food palace. That’s why we have to try out her recipes. Anybody who can do that with food is someone worth learning more about.
It was so fun sharing these dishes with my friends. Full disclosure: I’m from Detroit, so this food reminds me so much of the special occasion food I ate growing up. In fact, I make okra, corn and tomato salad for myself to this day. But many of the other ingredients are ones I don’t use often. So, it was fun to get my hands dirty. It was also fun to add my spin to these dishes. For example, putting Mexican cheese into a very African-American dish? But I say, hey, if it tastes good.