CEDAR RAPIDS — When Magda Davis prepares dishes for Island Secrets Soul Food, her new eatery in Lindale Mall’s food court, she’s cooking up a combination of Southern soul food and Caribbean flavors, as a reflection of both her culture and that of her husband, Roderick Davis.
She’s originally from the island of Saint Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Her mother is from Trinidad and her father from Santo Domingo, the capitol of the Dominican Republic. Roderick Davis’s family is from South Carolina, and he grew up there and in Florida.
“It’s a lot of family recipes,” Magda Davis said. “I cook from my heart. There’s nothing else I know how to do. I boiled my first pot of rice when I was 8-years-old. It reminds me of family time. You cook, you sit around a table, you tell stories, you talk about your day. It’s something we don’t do enough anymore.”
The menu changes daily, with dishes like fried chicken and pork chops, meatloaf, macaroni and cheese, and peach cobbler. Davis takes those traditional soul food dishes and puts her own Caribbean spin on them with her spices.
She said people call her Mama Maggie, she said, and she wants to cultivate that family-feeling.
“I don’t turn anyone back. If you have $2 or $5 or no dollars, if you’re hungry and I have food, you’re going to eat,” she said.
She started cooking from home at the beginning of the year, then found the space at Lindale Mall, which opened Sept. 4. Davis said she likes it because it feels like a community space, even if it’s less busy than in years past.
“I fell in love with the mall. It reminds me of the mall I went to when I was 14 or 15 years old in New York City,” she said. “I would like people to come back to the mall and to take advantage of what it has to offer.”
The couple has been in Iowa almost two years and want to stay for the long term. They said a friend, Valerie Fluellen, plans to join them and be part of the business after the holidays.
“This is it, this is home. The home feeling you get, the hellos, the ‘How you doings?’” Davis said. “It’s a fairy tale to live here. This is a dream place. When I tell people that, they say, ‘Hush, don’t tell too many people.’”
People can call in orders or message the Island Secrets Soul Food Facebook page to place an order for pickup at a certain time. Though the eatery is in a food court, it’s not necessarily always ready to eat immediately, as they are cooking from scratch in the small kitchen behind the counter. Fried chicken, for example, is prepared to order. Other dishes, like red beans and rice or collard greens, simmer on the stove. They also offer catering.
“I give you some good conversations and feed you,” Davis said. “It’s just comfort food, it’s nothing fancy. It’s just comfort, warm food, that’s all I’m serving.
If You Go
• What: Island Secrets Soul Food
• Where: Lindale Mall, 4444 First Ave. NE, Cedar Rapids
• Hours: Noon to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday
• Details: (319) 431-0700
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