This afternoon as I tore the lettuce leaves from the bunch and rinsed them in a colander, I was reminded of my grandmother. Was it the sound of the running water, the smell of the fresh lettuce and dirt, or the touch of water and leaf tossed in my hands? So many times I watched in awe as my grandmother so naturally handled culinary tasks, especially with produce from her garden. She peeled and cut potatoes so quickly. I marvelled that she didn’t cut her thumb. She rinsed and shredded and chopped. She boiled and kneaded and rolled. She sweated and labored and smiled. And it all looked so natural, so easy. When we gathered at her table, the whole family, there were so many dishes; vegetables, relishes, bread, butter, pies, and ice cream, truly a feast.
As Thanksgiving approached the first year I was married, we invited my parents to come for a meal since we’d be spending the actual holiday with my in-laws. I was going to serve just a few things, can’t even remember what the meat dish was, meatloaf or roast perhaps, and maybe scalloped potatoes, definitely green bean casserole, the kind with the French Fried onions. What I found so difficult was the timing. I couldn’t manage to get everything cooked and done at the same time. My mother and I laughed at my inexperience.
And today I find myself rinsing lettuce just like Grandma. I have finally arrived. My kitchen skills have become instinctive, intuitive. I thought of how young I was when I watched her, not really helping, neither of us aware that my senses were fully engaged, that I was absorbing her ways…