I talked with Adrienne C. Moore the Thursday after the long Memorial Day weekend, and she still working her way through holiday leftovers. "I had the rest of a cinnamon roll bun, pancakes, eggs, slices of apple, and orange juice," the actress explained. "It’s like post-holiday, so it’s a little smorgasbord of whatever’s left over in my refrigerator from the weekend long of eating my face out." And when she's not on set of the Netflix show Orange Is the New Black, where she plays Cindy "Black Cindy" Hayes, Moore loves to cook in her Brooklyn apartment, entertain, and, perhaps most importantly, eat.
So I spoke with Moore about the joy of kale and poached eggs, finding cooking advice from YouTube, and how Orange Is the New Black might be the best show about food set in a women's prison.
Extra Crispy: Do you have a go-to brunch spot in Brooklyn?
Adrienne C. Moore: Oh, I have several. I was just telling someone the other day. Olea on Adelphi and Lafayette is amazing. I love anything that Madiba makes, which is on DeKalb. Alice’s Arbor is really good brunch. There’s a place right on Franklin called Borough. I had brunch there a few times; it’s really good. I love a place that has a good kale salad because I feel like I can just get that, and I feel like I’m getting my vegetables in. Anything with kale in it, it’s like, “Oh, it’s good and fibrous enough. I’m getting my vegetables in for the day.”
Right, it can be covered in all of the dressing, but as long as there’s kale.
As long as there’s kale. And I actually like the taste of kale. I can eat it in its raw form. I like the texture. That and arugula. I love the taste of arugula. It just tastes like—I don’t want to say grass, but it tastes just like it’s from the earth. Like you went to the fields and pulled it straight out of the ground.
What’s your favorite thing to cook at home?
I don’t necessarily have a favorite, because I love to cook just different things and try new things, sort of mix and match and discover new things that I’ve never tried before. I have this sort of theory about food and people. The foods that we gravitate toward are reflective of the kind of people that we sort of like and gravitate toward, too … I have a friend. She does not like mushrooms. She doesn’t like the taste, she doesn’t like the texture. And you think of mushrooms, and you think of kind of slimy, kind of spongy, and I feel like she doesn’t like those kind of people so much. [Laughs]
But in terms of things I love to cook—I’m a Southern girl. I love a good mac and cheese, a good casserole of some sort. ... I love playing around with spices. Even if I’m making something as simple as say, for example, chili. Big Southern dish. We love our chilis. I love doing at least four or five different beans, I love seasoning it with Indian spices like marsala or cardamom or cumin. I love experimenting with different spices and flavors from different cultures, because I think there’s more success in using it all together than trying to say, “Oh, well, this is a culinary art dish. We wouldn’t dare put African spices in it,” or something like that. I love to play and discover and try new things.
I love your theory about food and people. Do you think the way you like to cook and eat speaks to your personality, as well?
Absolutely, absolutely! I was blessed that I had a diverse rearing in that my parents encouraged me to not be so judgmental on people and get to see and get to know people for who they are.
That segues really well into talking about Orange Is the New Black, which I can’t not ask you about since the new season comes out so soon. I’m a huge fan of the show, and I feel like food is a really big part of it. Especially with your character [Black Cindy], whose whole spiritual journey is kind of kicked off by a desire for good food.
We do focus a lot on food because, I think, at a women’s prison, [for] women, it’s important for us to provide and have a sense of home. ... And as you see in our show, there’s been battles trying to gain control of the kitchen, because if you have control of the kitchen, you have the upper hand, for all intents and purposes.
So I think food has a very integral role on our show for a number of reasons. It’s a spiritual thing. It’s a nourishment thing. It’s “I have the right to have a decent meal,” so it’s a political thing. It’s a familial thing. You know, whenever we’re sitting down at the table, we’re always with our crew, and that’s where we hash out our issues, it’s where we talk about what’s going on and we strategize and we plan.
So when you’re not on set and you have time to cook for yourself, what do you make yourself for breakfast?
On weekends, that’s when I kind of lay it out because you have time to really luxuriate. So on the weekends, I like to lay out the grits. I make cheddar grits, and I put goat cheese in it and a little bit of milk. I’ve learned to make pretty much every style of eggs form scrambled to egg white only to poached to fried to boiled. I feel like poached eggs are my favorite. I love poached eggs. I don’t know why, but I just love a poached egg.
How’d you learn your egg poaching technique?
I just went on YouTube, and I just found this chef.
Do you ever search for recipes on Pinterest?
I just started getting into Pinterest. But one of the things that my mom taught me was that she was the queen of making something out of nothing. I grew up in a sort of party entertaining type of house, which is why I love to cook and to cook in bulk. We would always have people kind of filtering through the house at any given moment, and my mother was really good at going into the refrigerator and just finding scraps of leftovers and things that had just thawed out, and she’d make some snacks or a meal.
So that’s one of the things I love to do. I love to go into my refrigerator—because, I’ll be honest with you. I’m a New Yorker now, so sometimes I can’t always cook. So I will sort of make some leftover takeout with some things that I have in my refrigerator, so I’ll make a whole new meal out of something. And if you go through some of my Instagrams, I used to post these videos of me taking a whole bunch of leftovers and making a whole new meal out of it.
It’s like Chopped before Chopped.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.