Do you know what is really, really cool?
Cool, is going into your grandmother’s kitchen and knowing that everything will be the same. Same as when were a child* Do you know what I mean?
*(see footnote re: post Grandpa house redecorating).
You know that the first drawer under the “special glasses” cabinet is full of sugar fee gum, playing cards and restaurant mints. What’s up with bringing home mints? How old are they really? Hmm.
You know that the daily fresh Italian bread on the counter is from our family friends’, who own the best local bakery, and its exclusively only used for toast in the morning (with peanut butter) and for dipping into the gravy at dinner.
Okay sometimes a self-made, mid-day prosciutto, mozzarella, basil pesto panini is allowed. However, you can be sure your dinner will be docked for this at Gram’s house.
You know that the recipes are not kept in a book somewhere. They are in her head. Her secret sauces.
You know where the cookies are kept and you know where “the good cookies” are hidden.
You know that she thinks balsamic vinegar is faddish and good old red wine vinegar is “how it has always been”.
You know that the pasta is never more than a day old and made by the Morgias (more family friends).
You know that the smell in that kitchen takes you straight back to a time when you couldn’t reach the countertop.
You know there is no place like this on earth.
What you don’t know is what life will be like when you can no longer walk into this kitchen and breathe it all in.
The memories of family dinners, celebrations, holiday, quiet breakfasts with Gram, late nite snacks when she isn’t looking and you can go a two full knuckles deep into the sauce still on the stove top with a hunk of bread!
Special gramma moments when you are the lucky one to get the first taste of the gravy with a big hunk of bread. (That’s what I first thought a hunk was, a good chunk of bread lol).
I am savoring these memories now. Recalling them. Holding them tight. Writing them down for later. For when I need to smell the sauce on the stove.
She lies in a hospital bed, longing to taste peanut butter toast and coffee in the morning. She cannot swallow on her own right now.
Her eyes gleam when we say the word chocolate. When I say that Dad didn’t make me gravy for my arrival, she lifts her hand and shakes a finger at him. She mumbles alot and is struggling to find speech. It breaks my heart until she says with not a stutter,
” let’s go home, lets bust out of here”.
The gran-apples don’t fall far from the tree.
My best family recipes are the ones that you can not only taste, but also travel with, back to a time in my past – or even just yesterday.
Buono notte and sweet dreams of peanut butter toast and coffee in the morning.
*After my Grandfather passed some 25ish years ago, the plastic grapes and wicker wine bottles came down from around the ceiling in the kitchen. The goddesses trapped in an oil cage lantern went away and the uber cheezy Italian kitchen took on a more mature decor. As a designer, I would be appalled to walk into such a scene as he made. As his granddaughter, I love it! Shhh. Don’t tell Gram.
PS – Dear Mom, if you read this – Just know I have the same memories in another kitchen not so far away from this one. xo