My mom is notorious for burning herself while cooking, and slicing her fingers on too-sharp kitchen knives.
She doesn’t follow recipes and afterward can never say exactly what ended up in the mix. Despite this and because of this everything she cooks is delicious and impossible for me to replicate. A meal with my mom is a one-time experience.
She dashes around the kitchen and throws things into pots, things I didn’t even know my kitchen contained and never would consider combining. She says that when she reads a recipe she can taste the finished dish in her mouth. Vegetables should be roasted with fresh rosemary. No fresh rosemary? We’ll use nutmeg and dried ginger instead. The kitchen cleaver becomes an extension of her hand and she uses it to gesture and point at things from across the room, slicing dangerously through the air between us.
When she cooks, I get out of the way.
My Nana’s story begins on the shoulders of a clown. On the edge of a diving board, fifty feet above the surface of the Greenpoint Brooklyn public pool.
The way she tells it, her first leap was born from necessity, as I suppose they usually are. My grandmother needed a shower. Her family’s four-room tenement was crammed with ten people, each bed holding three or four bodies, their one bathroom shared with another Italian family across the hall. Sunday was bathing day. My great-grandmother boiled water on the stove, strung up a sheet and converted the large kitchen sink into a bathtub. Father first, then mother, then oldest sibling to youngest—everyone took a turn behind the sheet with a bar of hard soap. Continue reading
We went in search of funnel cake. Lindsey (above, in yellow) grew up in five different states, but it was Illinois that hooked her on county fairs. Cane County, she told us in the car, rivaled Cook County next door. We were driving the diagonal highway that cuts across the plains to Longmont, the mountains to our backs.
I’ve lived in Boulder County for six years and it took Lindsey, then a somewhat new friend from NYC (and five other states) to show me what was in my own backyard. Continue reading