Sunday, May 31, 2009

Families are like fudge - mostly sweet with a few nuts

Ah, how true. There are a lot of nuts in my family and I love each and every one of them. I also love fudge. There in lies the purpose of this blog.

This weekend marks the 21st anniversary of my Grandpa Gene's death. It's interesting to note that for me, every summer begins with this anniversary; the end to every school year, my brother's birthday, the passing into another season always leave me sitting around remembering the man I lost when I was 7. It also begins a yearly reflection and longing for my Grandma Helen who died 2 short weeks later. When I think of them I always think of food. When I think of anyone I think of food. There are memories and stories wrapped in meals and the smells, tastes, textures all hold comfort and closeness.

It's that closeness that I think I miss most at this time of year. Nostalgia sets in because inevitably this time of year brings parties, events and hallmarks that my people are missing. I may not be able to see or touch my grandparents but I still feel them. Every time I'm demolishing some good ribs I remember my Grandpa Gene standing by the grill on his side yard wearing his Chargers hat and a white undershirt basting ribs with a a cold Coors in his hand. Whenever I can get my hands on a snicker doodle cookie I can vividly see myself in my Grandma Helen's Kitchen sitting on a tall red stool next to the warm oven watching her roll the dough balls into the cinnamon sugar. Every Thanksgiving, when I smell a turkey cooking I see my Grandma Maggie making this odd cranberry souffle that she'd try to get me to eat but I never did...until the year she died. When I chop onions, I remember Grandma Dollie sitting on the little couch, leaning forward with her blankets on her legs dipping into a small bowl of chopped onions to put on everything she ate. These things bring me comfort. Happiness even if it's fleeting.

In a world where families are spread apart and time goes by so fast and life in general is stressful I hope to be able to find comfort and love in the recipes my family have left me. I'm going to eat my inheritance, the tiny scraps of envelope and receipts scrawled with barely decipherable recipes, to see if as James Beard (the father of American Gourmet cooking) put it, " Food is our common ground, a universal experience."

Are there any recipes I definitely need to make? What memories does food evoke for you?

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