‘Food that’s going to stick to your ribs’: The significance of soul food in Yalobusha County

Marie Gaston still remembers all the food her parents cooked when she was growing up. The aromas of fried chicken, green beans, cabbage, candied yams and fried potatoes often floated from the kitchen. Gaston said her parents cooked full meals like this nearly every day.

Marie Gaston, left, Briunna Mangrum, center, and Lakisha Caldwell, right, keep the restaurant functioning from open to close. Credit: Brittany Brown

Among the youngest of her three sisters and five brothers, Gaston, a Water Valley native, said her parents cooked not only for her and her eight siblings, they also cooked for other families in their tight-knit neighborhood.

“We were in a subdivision with five other houses, and it was more like with our big family, everybody else came,” Gaston said. “So Mama always cooked this big ol’ pot of different foods. It was something.”

As she grew older, Gaston, like many children, eagerly joined her parents in the kitchen, helping prepare the food. Often she was tasked with peeling potatoes and cleaning chitterlings. 

Marie Gaston arrives at Table 6-4-72 at 7 a.m. every morning to prepare and cook food for the day. Credit: Brittany Brown

Today, this is what Gaston does for a living — preparing, cooking and serving soul food — at her restaurant Table 6-4-72 in Water Valley.

“It was something I wanted to do from watching my mom,” Gaston said.