When it comes to America’s approach to food, poet Maya Angelou says too much rushing around — and too many rules — are enough to crush good cooking. Eating good food, she says, should be a time to enlighten the spirit.

Talking with Morning Edition guest host Don Gonyea about the food of her childhood in Stamps, Ark., Angelou says her family always ate vegetables from her grandmother’s garden.

“Dinner time was generally boiled; meats were smoked meats,” she says. “If there was an old rooster, it might get boiled. And we’d have boiled chicken, and maybe dumplings.”

Yet that dinner table was much more than a place to break bread.

“I’m concerned that Americans are losing that place of meeting,” she says. “There are very few times we can be more intimate as to share food together.”

Angelou has worked that spirit into her new cookbook, Great Food, All Day Long: Cook Splendidly, Eat Smart.

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