everybody’s hands are different

img_2321This belonged to my grandmother.  And now it’s mine.

We lost her one week ago today, and since she and her influence are all over these pages, it only feels right to memorialize her here as well.

I’ve spoken before here and elsewhere about what a remarkable woman she was.  She raised 7 children, largely on her own, after my grandfather passed at a young age.  She was a voracious reader, finishing 3 or 4 books a week up until nearly the end of her life.  She never received formal education beyond 8th grade, but she was one of the wisest people I have ever met.  She started quilting at the age of 70, and she was both talented and prolific.  Her gardens were an oasis, and her beloved roses were still blooming last week in Michigan’s late October chill.

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And her food… her food.  Her food was as good as anything you could get in a restaurant, better, even, because she fed every single person who sat at her table with love.  She was a natural cook, who rarely used recipes, who measured things by sight, by taste, by feel.  “Everybody’s hands are different,” she’d say, as she gathered a pinch or three of salt or garlic or cumin, showing me how much to use in her cupped palm before adding it to the pot.  She just knew when it was right, and she taught me to trust my hands and my instincts, too.

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To sit at Grandma’s table was to feel safe, to feel cherished, to feel comforted, to feel connected.  I was so scared to walk in to that kitchen last week and feel that something was missing, but when we got there, I still felt her presence, her love all around us.  She passed that on to my aunts, my uncles, my cousins, my whole family.  There was abundant laughter alongside our many tears as we gathered at the table without her, eating, drinking, sharing our stories, remembering her love.  What an incredible gift.

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One of my aunts pulled me aside at the visitation on Friday and told me that she thought I should have Grandma’s cast iron skillet.  I’m sure you can imagine how I cried.  It was an honor to cook with my grandma, and a privilege to be fed by her, and while I have been sharing her food with others for years now, to have this little piece of her kitchen live on in my home is really something special.  I will think of her every time I use it.

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I simply would not be the cook that I am without my Grandma’s lessons, her guidance, her encouragement, and her love.  She made me a better woman, a better mother, a better human being in countless ways, but our shared love of cooking, and of feeding people, was an incredibly special bond.

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I am so grateful to you, my beloved abuelita.  I will miss you so, so much.

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ain’t love grand

tree

I moved to New York for love. And then I fell in love with New York, and more specifically, with Grand Central Terminal. The guy I moved here to be with didn’t seem to mind (he loves it, too).

wildedibles

We fell into an easy rhythm our first go-round in the city. On Fridays, after work and before hopping on a train home, I’d stop off at the Market Hall at Grand Central Terminal, grab cheeses and charcuterie from Murray’s, perfect produce from Zabar’s stand, bread from Eli’s, maybe a steak or chops from Ceriello’s, or some oysters or sea bass or sardines from Wild Edibles, and a bottle or two from Grande Harvest Wines, then schlep it all home to Brooklyn. The Market became part of our routine, a way to treat ourselves after a long work week, and to kick off our weekend with some indulgent treats.

tomato mania

cheeses

Grand Central and its Market were so much a part of our lives, in fact, that when that guy and I decided to get married, we couldn’t imagine not swinging by for a few photos as part of our celebration.

Elis bread

When we moved back to the city after our years in Providence, Grand Central was one of the first places we visited. Julian has come to love the terminal’s soaring ceilings and bustling halls as much as we do.

so much fruit

As time and money have allowed, I have resumed our tradition of a Friday market stop, for cheese and charcuterie, tiny tomatoes and jammy figs, burrata and bread and sweet treats for the kids.

indoorpicnic

And now, once again, we are leaving.

one last visit

I know, of course, that New York is not the only great food city around, and I look forward to exploring all that the greater DC area has to offer us, but I don’t know if any place will ever give me the same thrill as the one I get when I walk up from the 6 train and into the main concourse, or when I pass through the doors on Lexington Avenue into the cool, fragrant air of the Market.