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NPR Arts & Life

Maya Angelou, Foodie

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The legendary Maya Angelou died last week. In her lifetime, she was a nightclub dancer, a San Francisco streetcar conductor, an activist, a teacher and, most notably, a poet. Her memoir, "I Know Why The Caged Birds Sings," revealed the story of her own abusive childhood. She would go on to write several more books, including her most recent called "Mom And Me And Mom." I spoke with Angelou about that book last year. But near the end of our interview, the conversation broadened and revealed yet another role Angelou relished in her lifetime - lover and maker of good food.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MARTIN: What happens in your day if you find yourself with one or two sacred hours of free time? What does Dr. Maya Angelou do?

MAYA ANGELOU: Mmm. That's a wonderful question because it would depend on what kind of day it is. If it's a good spring or summer day, I'd probably be in my garden. Or I would be maybe cooking something that catches my fancy. One thing that's nice to cook are whipped cream puffs.

MARTIN: (Laughter).

ANGELOU: They're so easy. And yet people think they're so difficult, and they're so complementary.

MARTIN: Wow. It sounds hard to me.

ANGELOU: No, I promise you. When you see how easy it is and how delicious they can be, make it for your beloved. Make it for your family - someone in the family. Then, someone you really want to impress. Just for that - oh, yes, I have this. (Yawning).

MARTIN: Oh, this old thing - this batch of cream puffs.

(LAUGHTER)

ANGELOU: Oh, this - and creme eclairs.

MARTIN: The poet and amateur pastry chef, Maya Angelo, who died last week. She was 86 years old. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.