This belonged to my grandmother. And now it’s mine.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I am so grateful to you, my beloved abuelita. I will miss you so, so much.