Oprah Winfrey knows food: She put out her first cookbook last year, has an entire line of “O, That’s Good!” prepared meals, and, most importantly, regularly shares Instagram photos of baskets overflowing with produce she’s harvested from her own garden. She’s basically a home-cooking expert—which is why, back in 2006, she had such a hard time forcing herself to enjoy a plate of unseasoned chicken prepared for her by a cooking-contest winner on her talk show.
In the video of that awkward encounter, resurfaced by BuzzFeed‘s Spencer Althouse on Twitter last weekend, the eager chef slowly devolves into self-doubt as Oprah takes her time tasting the chicken. “I do like it. I like it very much,” Oprah says after several careful bites, before gently suggesting, “I think—did we add salt and pepper? I think we needed salt and pepper,” prompting nervous laughter from the studio audience. Upon being told that the lack of salt and pepper was intentional, Oprah offers a dumbfounded look and a quick chuckle and starts, “I would just like—” before changing tack and concluding, “I think it’s delicious, is what it really is.” Remember that time Nicole Kidman sort of shaded Giada De Laurentiis’s cooking on Ellen? Yeah, it was sort of like that.
The world learned two very valuable lessons that day. First, Oprah deserves some kind of award for her mastery at navigating tricky situations with grace and ease. And second, do not ever serve Oprah unseasoned chicken.
Now, more than a decade after the tense on-air moment, Oprah has finally shared what was really going on at the time (if you couldn’t already tell from her facial expressions). In a video shared on her eponymous magazine’s Instagram account on Thursday, the media mogul thanked Althouse for digging up the video, which “made me laugh,” and explained, “Here’s the deal. This is what I was thinking: I always wanted anybody who came on the show, no matter what they did, to have a good experience. And I also wanted to stay in my own truth while allowing them to have that good experience.”
She continued, “I was having a moment of trying to decide, ‘Do I want her to have a great time?’ ‘What is my real moment of truth?’ Because the truth for me was that I am used to having salt and pepper on my chicken. That’s just the truth. That’s what I was thinking: ‘This chicken needs some salt and pepper.'”
Spoken in true Oprah fashion—as she said in her standing ovation–worthy Golden Globes speech earlier this year, “What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.” While she was talking specifically about speaking out against racism and sexism at the time, it clearly also applies to those moments when you must stand up against the evils of salt- and pepper-less poultry.
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