Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Things You'll Never Get to Eat Again

My grandmother was a terrible cook.

I say that with the utmost of love and respect. The fact that she rarely did it may have had something to do with it, but in the span of my life, I remember more disasters than dishes. There was the Thanksgiving stuffing that floated in a pool of muddy liquid with large chunks of garlic and onion floating on the top...the salty soap soup that she produced in mass quantities whenever one of us felt ill. She carted the soup in Ziploc baggies all the way to where ever we were living at the time. As bad as it tasted, nothing was to be wasted, and she ate bowl after bowl of whatever she created, without so much as a blink.

Understandably, we dinnered at the local diners most often, where she would hit the salad bar with abandon, topping cottage cheese with french dressing and pronouncing it "Delish" years ahead of Rachel Ray.

Man, I miss that woman.

There were a couple things, though, that would make your head spin and your mouth water...things that were just too good to believe. A chocolate bundt cake that took seven eggs..SEVEN EGGS and she would go on about the expense and decadence of using seven eggs, which would quickly fade into the pizzas her own mother would make during the Depression, and the veggies she grew in pots on the fire escape, and how, even when there was no money and no jobs her mom always had a meal for the hungry on hand, along with plenty of food for her own large family.

She also made this fantastic fried apple pie. It was flaky and crumbly and sort of, well, dry, as in it didn't have the kind of syrupy apple pie filling that you would normally think of when you think apple pie. They were fantastic, and my mother's favorite. It occurred to me in a rare moment of clarity during my wild twenties that I should ask her to show me how to make them.

It was too late. She was already far too ill and far too tired and sliding rapidly towards the end of her life. I may as well have asked her to climb Mount Everest.

I'll openly admit I don't often try to replicate the recipes. Seven eggs is ridiculous amount for one cake, and frying an apple pie is a bit like gilding the lily and twice as fattening. I choose rather to think about the amazing woman who used to make these things for me with such love and dedication and take a moment to miss her instead, knowing full well that the secret is probably something the adult me WOULD NEVER put in her mouth.

I miss you, Grandma. You were totally awesome.


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