Monday, May 2, 2016
Oh Hell, She's Cookin' Now!
I love the sound of that word--the rhythm of the consonants, the way the word just kind of rolls along. It's one of the words that sounds like what it conveys; it not only sounds edible but actually rather delicious.
So many of my memories of my grandmother--my Mawga--involve her in the kitchen. I suppose it's not such a remarkable thing; she was a product of Midcentury America, after all. By the I was a little girl in the 1980s attending elementary school, being told I could be a President or an astronaut by female teachers who were probably once told that was all they could hope to become, my grandmother was still at home, cooking.
The sizzle of smelly salmon patties. The warning hiss of the pressure cooker. The clatter and rattle of the cast iron skillet against the stove as she popped popcorn in preparation for our Saturday night tradition of popcorn and The Golden Girls. My hands, squelching through the raw meat and bread crumbs as we rolled meatballs. Her hands, as she rolled and cut egg noodles, as she spread pink icing over my birthday cake. Her voice, reflecting that she might make Sue's chicken that night. (Who the hell was Sue, anyway?) My grandfather, making cameo appearances as he mashed the potatoes vigorously every Thanksgiving (to this day, mashed potatoes, no matter how fancy or locally-sourced or foodie-ish, don't taste the same; they lack the quiet, stubborn strength and loyalty that came through my grandfather's potato masher) and grilled hamburgers and hotdogs every Memorial Day, every Fourth of July, every Labor Day.
Yet for all the cooking she did, she didn't do much to teach me how to cook. The one cooking lesson my Mawga gave me was pretty terse: "If you can read, you can cook." I can't say that I ever sought out her tutelage, as Eldest Sister did--I remember, as both Mawga and Eldest progressed in age, Mawga ceded more and more culinary power and responsibility to Eldest. Over the years, I've made a few pretty half-hearted efforts at cookery, and in recent years, less and less. Scoots Magoo was usually condescending at best, slightly mocking at worst, when I attempted to cook, and as our home life disintegrated in other ways, it was less and less of a pleasure to cook.
Well, f**k that noise. I'm home. And I can read. So I can cook.