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Cuisine to Fortify Even a Pop Diva

April 06, 1999|LYNELL GEORGE

"Voulez-vous manger avec moi ce soir?" Thank heavens patchwork gal songstress Cyndi Lauper said it so we don't have to.

It appears that finally Patti LaBelle, grande dame of the extended temblor vibrato, has completed her long-anticipated endeavor--a cookbook, "LaBelle Cuisine: Recipes to Sing About" (Broadway Books).

Like singing, her other passion, the act of cooking is really about love: "a way to show it, share it, serve it." Embarking on the project (co-written by Laura Randolph) afforded LaBelle the luxury of reconsidering her family's nourishing embraces--her grandmother Tempie's Biscuits, her mother Chubby's Candied Sweet Potatoes, her father Henry's Bread Pudding.

Besides offering rib-sticking (and thus nap-inducing) recipes for comfort food, all top secret until now, LaBelle underscores some common-sense advice about the dishes. "They're all fly-you-to-the-moon good. But some, like my five-cheese Over the Rainbow Macaroni and Cheese," she cautions, "are not for everyday eating. . . . Back when I started cooking, we thought fat was something God put in food to make it taste good."

Like 3 million other African Americans, LaBelle is living with diabetes. Since her diagnosis, she has dramatically changed her lifestyle and she wants to help others make that commitment. She is contributing some of her recipes from "LaBelle Cuisine" to the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health's African American Diabetes Action Project's brochure. One look through proves that a healthier you doesn't mean you have to skimp on flavor.

Lady Marmalade Sauce, indeed!

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