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Beyonce likes to make ... Hamburger Helper?

November 13, 2008 |  9:10 am

Beyonce_2The first time I met Beyoncé Giselle Knowles (she hadn’t quite reached one-name stature yet) was back in 2000 in Houston. Her father and manager, Mathew Knowles, a former salesman, picked me up at the airport and drove me to the family home. The city was a soggy mess — the sewers were overflowing after a nasty storm — but the Knowles' house was immaculate and warm. Beyoncé  was at the house with the other members of Destiny’s Child, the pop group that took career notes from the Supremes, En Vogue and TLC before selling 18 million albums in the United States and many times that abroad.

What I remember most about that visit: After a photo shoot, Beyoncé  was wearing denim shorts and a gray sweatshirt and sitting on a kitchen counter top, tugging at her hair like a little girl, while, over her shoulder, her mom was stirring gumbo. I reminded Beyoncé  of that moment when I met her in New York last week to interview for a Sunday Calendar cover story running this weekend. (We'll add the link to that story on this post on Friday.) She smiled and winced like someone thumbing through an old high school yearbook. “Well I can tell you this: I need some of that gumbo right now. I haven’t had one of my mom’s meals in a long time. She’s the best with that gumbo.”

Beyoncé doesn’t cook. Not that she doesn’t want to. “I don’t have time. I know it's in my genes. And I have good seasoning instincts. I always watched her. But it’s such a big deal for me to cook. I can’t just do it. I have to have everything written out. I have to have my mom on the phone. Houston, we have a problem. It’s a big production. When I have a rare day off, I think, do I really feel like going through that? I do cook some Hamburger Helper, actually. Three days ago. I stir it up and it’s like a gourmet meal. So that was my cooking moment. I went to the grocery store and picked my vegetables and all of that.”

As she said that, Beyoncé was laughing hard; in many ways, despite the sleek Manhattan lifestyle, she is still proudly Texan. She has the honeyed Houston drawl and the deep affection for big hair and huge earrings. Really, this new Sasha Fierce alter ego she has been using to promote the new album was born years ago at Headliners beauty parlor, where customers who came to get their hair done found themselves a captive audience for rehearsals of  salon owner Tina Knowles’ talented young daughter. Check out the story this Sunday for more on Sasha Fierce; the new album; her new film, "Cadillac Records"; and her ambitions to become the next Barbra Streisand (seriously).

-- Geoff Boucher


Ann Powers reviews "I Am ... Sasha Free," an "ambitious, somewhat befuddling double album"

Wonder_woman_by_alex_ross Beyoncé wants to be Wonder Woman on the silver screen

Credits: Photo by Peter Lindbergh, courtesy MySpace; Wonder Woman art by Alex Ross and courtesy of DC Comics.