As part of our Small, Freeing Acts series, we joined lead singer of She Returns From War, Hunter Park, in Charleston, SC for some lowcountry boil. For Hunter, food and womanhood are completely connected: Food is wisdom, strength, creativity, love, connection, rest. Hunter reflects that both womanhood and a joyful relationship to food required perseverance, but luckily, it's the kind of perseverance that has been cultivating for generations and generations.
Womanhood is too often framed as what men are not. How would you define womanhood?
I believe that womanhood is defined by our perseverance. For as long as humanity has existed, we have had to prove that we are as deserving as a man. We have fought for our opportunities to prove ourselves, many times sacrificing more than men (and their egos) could let go of. Womanhood is flexible and tactful. Womanhood is knowing how to elegantly display a warrior-like quality and to say this is my place at the table, a place where all are welcome.
What’s something you had to unlearn about food?
I had to stop looking at food as a reward for my restrictions. Modern media has taught us that less is more and that has fraudulently convinced millions of people that we don’t deserve what we want, when we want it. This completely disconnects our bodies and our minds from looking at food as a source of healing.
How would you describe a woman’s relationship to food? How do you wish it would be described?
I hope that one day women can look at food as a natural vital source of energy to fuel the Divine feminine within each of us. Food should not be labor. Food should not be restricted in hopes of achieving any kind of goal. We are deserving of health and food is a necessary key to a healthy, vibrant life.
Have you found cooking to be a source of liberation or joy? Are there any foods that helped you do so? ?
Food is a way to bring people together, cooking and developing skills in the kitchen should be a source of pride. This is a lifelong learning experience, one that can bring great joy and wisdom.
What’s something you say to yourself or the women in your life to help reaffirm a healthy relationship to food and cooking?
My friends always joke about something called “safety spaghetti” when we feel like we have been worn down from work or life. It may be a running joke but it’s also grounded in our ability to come together and reassure each other by sharing a meal, checking back into ourselves, and releasing whatever we have been carrying with us. It’s in this common ground we are reminded that we can find a safe space, to be authentic and supported.
What’s your favorite thing for others to cook for you? And who’s usually cooking?
Since I was little, I’ve loved a coursed out dinner. Call me decadent, but I love sitting down to a meal where everything is a surprise, a chef can flex their culinary prowess and I can sit back knowing I’m expanding my palate and mind.
Is there something you cook just for yourself?
Tteok-bokki (simmered Korean rice cakes) is my all-time favorite comfort food. I learned to make them a few years back and something about them just makes me so happy. I found out about them when researching mukbangs on YouTube and I thought to myself “how can I eat that right now” since I found them readily available here at our local Asian market. They are my biggest indulgence. I could eat a baker's bowl full of them in one sitting!
What’s one piece of advice you’d want to share with your younger self or young girls today?
Look at how food can be a powerful community builder, with the right mindedness about how we feed ourselves your wildest dreams can be reality. Restricting your wants and needs nutritionally won’t feed your dreams. A lot can be found in eating. A breakfast sandwich could change your whole day. Being hungry isn’t being in control. Grab a snack, you’ve got this girl.
Hunter’s Lowcountry Boil
YOU NEEDOne can of Beer
In a Perfect Pot set on medium heat, cook chopped onion and minced garlic in 3 tbsp. Of butter. Lightly brown and deglaze with beer. Add four quarts of water and half package of seafood seasoning to the pot.
Add potatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Then add corn and sausage, let it cook for five more minutes. If you’re having crab legs, now’s a good time to use your Spruce Steamer over the pot.
In your Always Pan on medium heat, melt 3 tbsp. of butter and add plain (or marinated) shrimp. Cooking them shouldn’t take more than 3 minutes.
Combine all cooked ingredients into the pot, strain, and serve. While I love the Perfect Pot for serving, it’s also fun to dump the boil onto newspaper in the center of your table.
Serve with parsley. lemon juice, and the rest of the seasoning.
Pro tip: Hot sauce and saltine crackers make perfect accoutrements.