It’s almost Thanksgiving again. For me, there is always a tinge of sadness that surrounds that day of giving thanks because my only sibling, my dearest friend, my brother Raymond died the week before Thanksgiving in 1962. It’s been 47 years and I miss him still, as I do my parents and grandparents. They are all gone now and I am the memory keeper.
I love to cook. I come by it naturally since both my grandmother and my mother were known for their cooking skills, I collect cookbooks, preferably old, but among my favorites are those that have been passed down to me through my family. I have several written in French and dating back to the 1800’s. They were among the few things my great-grandmother brought with her when, as a young widow, she emigrated from France with her teenaged daughter and two sons. It was either a very brave thing to do or an act of desperation – I’ll never know which.
Tonight, I was looking though one of the old books for a recipe that was a family tradition during the holidays, Beignets de Carnavals. In the old books, the cooks always made notes and added their own recipies on the blank pages provided for that purpose. What I noticed tonight is that this book had three generations of recipies added in the handwriting of my great-grand, my grand, and my mom. There is a common thread to their handwriting as well as to their words and I can hear their voices with English and French mixing together. I hear the laughter of women in the kitchen, sharing stories and gossiping. I yearn to be with them but I can only observe and I can only remember.
I am the memory keeper.