I instantly warmed up to her. It is one of those things, some people take time to grow on you… with Joyce we clicked straight away. She probably has the same effect on most people with her high energy levels and incredible charisma shining through, the star quality with the empathy of a very human touch. And we both agreed that this is the start of a friendship…
Joyce was born in New York City and grew up in El Barrio in Manhattan also known as Spanish Harlem. She began life in Europe as a runway model in Paris but her love of soul, jazz and blues led her to Milan to pursue a career in music. She studied performing arts and music at the prestigious Fiorello H La Guardia School in New York, which was featured in the cult classic FAME in 1980.
Joyce performed as a backing singer with Gloria Gaynor and considers herself fortunate to have worked with Ronan Keating, Donna Summer and Italian jazz artist Enrico Intra. Joyce will be releasing her first solo CD in September this year.
We speak about Milan where she spends most of her time when she is not traveling. She tells me all about the culinary pleasures she experiences every day from living in Italy and she loves both Northern Italian and Sicilian food. Joyce enjoys cooking but eats mostly salads and healthy food on a daily basis and follows a diet to protect her singing voice avoiding some favorite foods like chocolate which she adores.
Although it is evident that Joyce has integrated into European life with great ease, she still dreams of real soul food, the bread puddings, tapioca, apple pies with lots of cinnamon and fried chicken. She shared with me some recipes that are her childhood favorites and although I cooked her Southern Baked Barbecue Chicken for dinner yesterday, I had to make it again for lunch today by special demand. It was incredibly delicious and totally devoured by everyone (even the fussy ones) and I was criticized yesterday for not making enough. So we have eaten Joyce’s soul food two days in a row! !
Joyce will be on the island only for a few days this time and she will not have much opportunity to savor local food but she hopes to return very soon.
And for Joyce’s Spicy Southern Baked Barbecue Chicken
3/4 cup Ketchup
1/2 cup Cider Vinegar
2 tablespoons Worchester Sauce
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
1/2 cup soft Brown Sugar (or 1/4 cup brown sugar plus 2 tablespoons Carob Syrup, this is my addition but you can simply leave out)
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
Sprinkle the chicken pieces generously with salt, pepper and store bought chicken seasoning OR alternatively paprika OR herbs of your choice. Add the Worcestershire sauce and allow to marinade for a minimum of two hours to overnight.
In a saucepan blend together the barbecue sauce ingredients over a low heat on the stove, bring to a gentle boil, simmer for a minute, switch off heat.
Arrange the chicken piece with skin side facing down in a deep roasting pan. I always line my pans with baking paper. Cover chicken with half the sauce. Make at 180C for 25 minutes. Turn the chicken skin side up and pour over the rest of the barbecue sauce. Bake for another 25 minutes and if you like a crispier skin grill it in the broiler for the last few minutes.
I served the chicken for dinner yesterday with Smoky Potato Wedges
and you will need:
Allow one large potato per person
Olive oil, just enough to cover the wedges
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Smoked paprika, allow half a teaspoon per potato
Mature cheddar cheese, 25g per potato, finely grated
I also used fresh marjoram from the garden but this is optional
Wash the potatoes and chop them into wedges, skin on. Drizzle some olive oil,madd the smoked paprika, sal and pepper and use your hands to mix them so that the oil and seasoning is equally distributed. Add the herbs and bake at 175 C for an hour. Take out of oven. Drain any access oil. Scatter the grated cheese over the potatoes. Return to the oven for 3 minutes. Take out, transfer to another dish and I scattered some more fresh marjoram over it but you can simply leave this out.
And we had Peach Cobbler for dessert. I made individual cobblers and featured them in yesterday’s Independent
and more soul food in this week’s newspaper
And to Joyce, a huge thank you, tante belle cose !