Looking for Princess Pamela
Does anyone know what happened to Princess Pamela? I met her back in 1996in NYC in front of her Southern Touch Restaurant on 1st Street near 1st Avenue. (The restaurant is now replaced by the Himalayan Cafe. She was one of the most eclectic characters in the East Village from as early as the 60's until I last saw her. If she is alive, I would really like to find her.
Back in 1969, she wrote the book "Princess Pamela's Soul Food Cook Book/from Chicken n'Ribs to Buttermilk Biscuits and Blackeyed Peas - A Mouthwatering Treasury of Afro-American Recipes from Manhattan's Most Spirited Chef", New American Library/Signet Books.
I LOVED Princess Pamela's. When I was 22, the first time I came to NYC from London in 1986, a friend took me to the restaurant. My friend had been there many times and knew the rules. I thought she was terrifying at first but she thought my English accent was 'cute', so from then on I was a regular every time I went back to NYC. Apart from the fantastic food, her singing was always a highlight for me, she had all the tradegy of Billie Holiday and all the soul of Aretha. I have a vision of her sitting on her throne by the window, with a sad string of winking Christmas tree lights in the background, singing fit to break my heart. I still have her card and it says her 'Musical Director' was Bobby Vidal. I went back in the mid 90's to find it but it had gone. I'm pleased to say I did get a copy of her cookbook from the Strand bookstore many years ago and still dip into it once in a while. Where ever she is I send her my love.
Now haven't y'all dug up some memories! Loved Princess Pamela's. Only place I've ever found in NYC where the southern food tasted just like the southern food I grew up eating. The Princess may have written the book, but every time I went Ada did the cooking. And the serving and order-taking, while Princess Pamela held court. I remember once, back in the '70s, taking a client there for dinner. He was a transplanted Southerner and I knew he'd love it. When my boss signed my expense account, he asked me about this restaurant he'd never heard of, and why I hadn't used the company card. I explained the cash-only policy, and other idiosyncrasies (like how we'd had to stand on the street and call through the window to be let in, the great sidemen who'd dropped by for a jam session, the Christmas tree) and he was just horrified that I'd taken a client to such a place. His loss.
A friend has a well-worn copy of her book. One of her signature dishes is Princess Pamela's peach cobbler, which she makes whenever the fresh local peaches are in. To another friend's great good fortune...he gets a peach cobbler every year for his birthday, his request.
Can't help with the search for her, but if she and Ada are still with us, I hope they're well and still enjoying great southern cooking and jazz riffs.
Wow! I remember Princess Pamela's--and I remember Bobby Vidal, the bass player (I think he was also her bf.) I remember going up there really really really late one night--it was the eighties, I was probably about 19, but definitely remember it was upstairs and we were the only ones there, except for Princess Pamela (what a character!), Bobby and her mom (who also was a character.) She sang, sadly, Bobby played bass and my friend (who knew her) and I ate. Great food. What a joint!
This is a blast from the past. I went to a birthday party at Princess' Southern Touch in the late 80s. I don't remember the food being all that great, but the atmosphere more than made up for it. I love places like that. May they always exist, and be rare and hard to find (so we continue to appreciate them).