Definition: a genre of novels and memoirs filled with stories and recipes
Trusting the Currents by Lynnda Pollio
Lynnda Pollio’s Trusting the Currents is a book like no other. “I didn’t know I was writing a book. I just started hearing a black, Southern woman’s voice guiding me to write down her words, which were wise and wild. Two years later, I had the first draft of an unexpected novel. It took another 8 years of me fighting this story, editing, giving up, and reconnecting until I finally surrendered to the truth that I was born to bring this book and its wisdom and love into the world.”
Lynnda didn’t know if her book would ever be published and took a leap, publishing it independently. To her surprise, the book went on to win 12 literary awards, including the BRAG Medallion.
The main character, Addie Mae, brings to us the reader, a savoring of words, experiences and awakening. Yet hidden in her story of pain and joy, loss and growth, is another soul. The real Addie Mae Collins was murdered on Sunday, September 15, 1963, at the Birmingham 16th Street Baptist Church by a bombing perpetrated by Klansmen. She was 14 years old. Three other girls were murdered and 22 were injured.
The real Addie Mae inspired the author. Author Lynnda Pollio explained how she came to write this book. She had a hard time finding a name for her main character until she saw a picture of Addie Mae Collins. “It really was like I was hit by lightening. I knew that was the character’s name. For the rest of the writing of the first draft, I kept a photo of Addie Mae Collins taped to my computer and I wrote to her. So, she inspired the character but was not her. It’s another story, but Addie Mae Collin’s sister, Sarah Randolph, actually read an early draft of the book.“
She asks Addie Mae, “Being a white woman from New York, what right did I have to tell a black Southern woman’s story?”
Addie Mae answers: “You be no different from me, child….We’re all just the same white light of God comin’ onto this pearl of a planet. Birth merely a divine prism, scattering this one light into all the colors of the soul. Why fuss over things that make folks different when that’s the very gift of life we begged for….”
Addie Mae Collin’s sister agreed, after reading an early draft. Calling Lynnda, she “went on to tell me how proud Addie Mae would have been. It was a beautiful conversation…. I asked Sarah if she had a problem with me being white. She said no because she could see the love in the book.”
The author recalls Addie Mae’s voice first coming to her. “Wake up, child. We’re about to take a long journey together.” And a journey they do take, through closed doors into others’ consciousness, into the insight of nature, into the daily life of Addie Mae and her cousin Jenny, raised as her sister. This book seems a new genre—an internal monologue story telling, what the author calls “conscious storytelling” and others label Visionary Fiction. Whatever it is called, we are taken to places unknown and it is a marvelous journey.
The book is not all mysticism and other consciousness. It is filled with the day-to-day life, a coming of age story of two Southern girls, in their schooling, in their whisperings, their love life. It is funny and sad, hopeful and tragic. The book has burned peas, teasing on playgrounds, child kidnappings and a murder. Above all, the voice of Addie Mae reminds us of the good we need to continually search for. “I think that’s what God does best, small miracles we don’t recognize as such.”
Mama’s Laughing Cow Peas
Mama’s go-to-dinner recipe is her secret Laughing Cow Peas, a dinner that Addie Mae ruins. Jenny’s a better cook, as Addie Mae says, “Best thing about Jenny’s cooking was that it healed much as satisfied.”
Why did Mama call it her Laughing Cow Peas recipe? The cow is laughing because while the dish always had milk, peas and noodles, Mama made the dish differently each time—depending what she had on hand. And that was the secret! Here’s my imagining of Mama’s recipe. Make it with a wooden spoon as Mama did
We made two varieties: one with only noodles and peas and another with mixed sautéd vegetables and toasted almonds.
Mama’s go to dinner recipe was her secret Laughing Cow Peas, a dinner that Addie Mae ruined. Jennywas a better cook, as Addie Mae says, “Best thing about Jenny’s cooking was that it healed much as satisfied.”
Here’s my imagining of Mama’s recipe. Make it with a wooden spoon as Mama did. Hope it satisfies. (Why did Mama call it her Laughing Cow Peas recipe? The cow is laughing because while the dish always had milk, peas and noodles, Mama made it differently each time—depending what she had on hand. And that was the secret!)
Mama’s Laughing Cow Peas
Mama’s Laughing Cow Peas (noodle with cheese & veggies)
1 package favorite noodles or pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil, butter, margarine–what you have on hand
3 cups frozen peas or fresh if you’re lucky
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese
1/3 cup cream or milk
3 sprigs fresh parsley or 1/2 teaspoon dried
- Make noodles according to recipe. Before you drain the noodles, stir in the peas, then drain.
- Put noodles and peas in a large bowl. Add parsley. Season with salt and pepper according to taste.
- Over low heat, add milk or cream to a pot and add in cheese, stirring until thickened.
- Pour over noodles and toss gently. Correct seasoning.
Expand the Table
Dairy Free: Use nondairy milk and vegan cheese.
Add some meat: 2 cups—cooked julienned ham or chicken, sautéed ground beef, lamb or turkey, crumbled bacon.
Make it light: Substitute milk for half and half
Pile the veggies on: Add sliced and sautéed vegetables of your liking: onions, grape tomatoes, shallots, zucchini, yellow squash or bell pepper. Add steamed broccoli or cauliflower, cut into bite sized pieces.
Are you nuts? Add slivered almonds, toasted
Find out more about Lynnda Pollio and her award winning B.R.A.G.Medallion Honoree book at: