Princess Pamela’s Soul Food

My friend Emily Armstrong found a photo of 1969 Princess Pamela’s Soul Food Cookbook.

She wrote the following:

“I was thinking smothered pork chops and remembered Princess Pamela’s Little Kitchen near my first apartment on E 10th Street. You had to shout up from the street, “Hey Pamela!”, and if she was in the mood she’d buzz you up to her apartment which was set up like a restaurant. She was terrifying, jazz musicians played there and the food was heavenly.”

Princess Pamela had a well-deserved reputation for orneriness.

After ringing the buzzer, she checked you out and a woman in a white nurse’s dress came to get you and walk you up to the restaurant that looked like it had been a railroad apartment. On a good night Pamela would drunkenly sing along with the jazz quartet. Their shining glory was a prominently displayed picture of Jackie Kennedy.

I lived across the street. My hillbilly girlfriend and I went a few times. Once we climbed the stairs. Princess Pamela took a look at us she said, “We’re full.”

I peeked inside.

There wasn’t a soul in the room, but she said, “Come back tomorrow.”

And we did.

I loved that place.

The food wasn’t great, but she was really special.

Susan Hanneford tells a story about the place.

“When we went to Princess Pamela’s, she was wearing a tight gold lame gown and had for a jazz combo to play for us. Unfortunately John Sex, who arranged this thing, didn’t mention that we were renting out the whole restaurant. When we balked at the $300 bill for entertainment. She was more than ornery- she was down right scary. Luckily I had proceeds from Irving Plaza on my person to ransom us out. I thought the food was mediocre, but I had a Southern mother and this wasn’t such a novelty to me.”

She was a piece of work.

I couldn’t find a single photo of her online.

A pianist wrote about playing there; “I accompanied a fat blues singer who would verbally abuse her yuppie clientele. I was fired for asking for a five dollar raise.”

According to Potluck with Judy Princess Pamela was a philosopher as well as a cook, and each page of the cookbook is enlivened with one of her sayings: “One way to stop an argument is to fill a man’s mouth with good cookin’.” Or “Three things I find offensive—mean men, back-bitin’ women, and sloppy cookin’.” And “I prefer my meats firm but tender which goes for chicken, pork chops, and men.”

Another place disappeared from the fabric of the universe.

Of course no one remembers the name of the Chinese restaurant underneath Princess Pamela’s, but they had an eleven-fingered delivery boy.


  1. Posted January 22, 2014 at 4:48 am | Permalink

    I once danced with Princess Pamela, right in the middle of her soul food joint… she said ”stop acting like a man… let me lead!”

  2. Posted January 22, 2014 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    that sounds about right

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