The groundbreaking Netflix series Orange is the New Black is returning for its 5th season today, and we are excited! After the tragic and tense plot developments at the end of Season 4, we are ready for a serious weekend of snacking and binge-watching to see what unfolds next for the inmates at Litchfield Women’s Prison in this hit ensemble dramedy.
We were so thrilled to have the chance to interview Adrienne C. Moore, who plays the outspoken and bold character Cindy “Black Cindy” Haynes on OITNB. In addition to being an award winning performer, Adrienne is also a total food lover and avid home cook, and we spent an hour chatting on the phone about food while she walked her two puppies around her neighborhood in NYC. She was warm, outgoing, and genuinely funny, and definitely shares Spoonful’s passion for gathering with friends and family.
What’s your relationship with food?
I grew up in a family who emphasized sitting at the table for family meals, discussing the day and that kind of stuff. I’m a twin, so my sister and I were always taught to share, and of course that would bring its own set of arguments at the dinner table, and my parents would use that time for us to hash out whatever issues we had. That’s what food does. It’s going into your belly, it’s nourishing your body, it’s almost like whatever the issue is, it becomes less important than the food you’re eating.
We read that you’re from Nashville (same as chef Carla Hall, who’s the cover story of our Summer ’17 issue)! Any tips about the food scene there to share?
Well, my dad is from Nashville, and he has 10 siblings, so the way my dad grew up, cooking was essential because they didn’t have money to eat out. My dad told me a story about how my grandmother would get a bunch of chickens and make them on Sunday, and all the neighborhood kids would come grab a seat at the table. Food was central to how you got to know each other.
Even now, when I go over to my aunt’s house she literally has all the burners going, the stove going, her sink is full of ice where she keeps the fish, and she’s frying fish or chicken. When I go home to Nashville, that’s what I want to eat! I can go to a restaurant and get good food, but I can’t get that home cooked meal. It’s the yeast rolls, the baked beans, fried fish, fried chicken, the spaghetti with special hot sauce…
What are some of your favorite things to cook at home?
Living in New York, I try to find two or three days where I do a little cooking…I cook for my dogs more than I do for myself! I tried to give my puppies kibble but they prefer real food. So, I make them chicken and rice with apples, spinach, and carrots.
For myself, I have a slammin’ mac and cheese that I like to make with at least 4 or 5 cheeses, like cheddar, asiago, mozzarella…and I love smoked Gouda. Depending on if I’m trying to be healthy, I might use gluten free pasta or cauliflower.
I’m also a French fry addict, and I’m always looking for different things to put on fries: truffle oil, parm, Old Bay… When I make them at home, I bake them. I do a light coating of coconut oil over the potatoes in a bowl, season them, spread them out on a cookie try and bake them at 375 or 400 degrees, so they still get that nice crispness! A girlfriend of mine just bought me an air fryer that I haven’t used yet, but I’m interested in how that can work.
Rack of lamb is another one of my favorites. I’m not a big meat eater, but I went to this restaurant years ago and had a rack of lamb and fell in love with that recipe. Essentially, I just take something sweet, something spicy, something bitter and something tangy and make a little sauce out of that. Maybe a I’ll use sriracha, blueberry jam, some of the grease from the lamb, and a little balsamic. You can use it as a marinade, a dipping sauce, or a glaze.
Do you have any rituals or things you like to do while you cook?
When I cook, I need good music playing, jazz or 80’s throwback, or a good R&B station going. And I always like a drink, a glass of wine or a cocktail, or seltzer with a splash of juice. It’s relaxing and therapeutic for me when I actually have the time to cook.
That sounds great! Do you like to host parties or gatherings?
Yes! My parents always had parties at their house. But I started my own tradition in college. A couple of friends in my dorm room floor were from all different parts of the country…I had a friend who was Jewish, one who was Korean, one who was Indian. We would make different dishes from our cultures and we would have a sort of international potluck. I believe there is a strong power in the element of food, it’s one of those common denominators that bring people together…my friends from all over the world, we’d put aside all our differences, and sit at a table together and share a meal. It makes you wonder why we can’t do this as a nation, and as a culture.
I’ve been renovating my apartment for the last year, and this past Christmas was the first time that I had a party since I started the process. I love potlucks, so for Christmas I hosted a holiday housewarming, potluck-style, and a bunch of my friends brought all kinds of dishes. It was amazing! I made lamb curry, people brought salads…someone brought a lobster salad. It was one of those situations where you send out the RSVP thinking that maybe 20 people will come but then everyone came. It was like 60-some people in my home! But, because it was a potluck there was plenty of food, I even had food leftover! I took all the leftover food and dropped it off where I know the homeless communities will get food, so they could have a hot meal.
Do people from the Orange is the New Black cast and crew eat together while you’re all on set?
Obviously there are a lot of us. Some people choose to eat in the cafeteria. The cast and crew sit together, there’s no hierarchy. Some people eat in their dressing rooms because that’s the one time we get a chunk of time to ourselves. Sometimes if there’s a guest director, or one of writers are in from L.A., we’ll have them to our rooms and catch up. It all goes back to food as a common denominator, food is a…not a distraction, but you can have a meal and a conversation and not realize all your food is gone. It’s such a powerful tool.
How are you feeling about Season 5 of OITNB coming out?
I’m always excited! We film it, but we don’t see how it’s put together with the music and the other themes, and how Jenji [Kohan, the show’s creator] likes to piece the story together. I feel excited and nervous about how the viewers are going to receive it.
I was walking my dogs this past weekend and I met an Israeli woman who was a political prisoner for years, and she came up to me and said, ‘I was in prison for years, I feel in love with your show because you guys tell the truth, and tell it like it is!’ That made my skin vibrate! You want to tell a story right. It was like a blessing to hear that, but also unfortunate, because some of the things we talk about in the show, like guard abusing the prisoners, like the food they get…these things are resonating with people, because we’re telling it like it is.
Do you have any other cool projects you’re working on lately? Anything food-related, perhaps?
I just finished an audio book series about Carl Sagan! It was such a huge honor to be asked to do that. I’ve always wanted to do an audio book, but it’s such a hard industry to break into. I’m in an episode of Search Party in their new season. And then I’m working on some of my own artistic projects that I will talk about when I can. At this phase in my career, I’m learning there’s a lot of empowerment in reclaiming and taking back your own artistry. I’ve been blessed and spoiled with these projects I’ve been working on. I want to keep growing, so I have a couple of projects I’m writing and producing.
If I ever had a cooking show, I would have a live band or DJ and a bar with a bartender. I actually had this idea a long time ago, for a show about cooking on a budget. We’d bring in a big chef like Emeril, and they could show the gourmet way of making a dish, and I’d have the same meal with the money-saving method of making it. I just think cooking is a fun thing and should be enjoyed. I have friends who cook just to eat and not for the nourishment and the fun. Some people in their free time like to clean, that’s their time, but my time is cooking.
Photos by Rafael Clemente