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My Culinary Essentials: Jesse Boykins III

Calling Jesse Boykins III “charismatic” is like calling LeBron James “a decent basketball player.” And during our studio interview, it became clear that the R&B/Soul singer has a serious passion for food. Here are some of our favorite excerpts:

On his preferred traveling snack:

"It's always good to have trail mix. I like the cheesy kind myself."

On breakfast at home:

"Honey Nut Cheerios with rice milk? Shwazaa."
(Editor’s Note: See here for the definition of “Schwaza.”)

On discovering new favorite(s):

“Eggplant is new for me. I'm not mad at eggplant. Eggplant is cool. I had beets for the first time last week and I was like, beets are fly!”

On bodega breakfast:**

"Sausage, egg, and cheese on a roll—with jelly."

On ordering a bodega sandwich in Brooklyn:

"When I go to the bodega, I'm always trying to challenge the sandwich maker. That's my thing. When I used to live on Franklin in Brooklyn, there were these cats that would make these amazing deli sandwiches. They were crazy good. I would be like, 'let me see if I can mess his head up today.' I'd be like, 'Let me get the steak, with pepper jack cheese. Fry an egg on there. Green peppers. Jalepeños. Mayo, mustard, oil and vinegar…and just keep going and going. Bodegas used to make me so happy. Sandwich makers don't get enough credit. They save a lot of lives. They make a lot of lives. So if someone makes you a sandwich, you better say thank you.”

Favorite kitchen jam:

“Raphael Saadiq’s ‘Love That Girl.’ This will make her sway in the kitchen while you guys cook dinner together.”

On how to cook for a lady:

“There's a lot of pressure and intimidation, especially if you're cooking for a young lady. Stay to what you know. It's really easy to make rice. If you master rice, half the meal is already done. Corn? It comes in a can. All you gotta do is open up the corn can, put it in the pot, put some seasoning on it—a little salt, a little butter, a little garlic powder, if you want to get fancy. So the corn, the rice, and then a salad. Salad's not hard to make. Just go to the store. Get some lettuce. Get some dressing. Get some cheeses, and if you want to add a little inflection, some pecans or some raspberries. For the main course, a lot of time brothers are afraid to make steak or meat, but all you gotta do is bake it! Or get a George Foreman grill. You really don't have to do much. Just act like you're cooking in the kitchen and tell her to sit way over on the couch in the living room. You're in the kitchen playing music and dancing, but meanwhile the Foreman is doing all the work for you. She'll love it, and then she'll come over more often, and then maybe she'll cook for you next time. You just got to try things, you got to be fearless in the kitchen. Kind of like love, you know what I mean?”

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