Thursday, November 26, 2009

Secrets and Stuffing

At every potluck or backyard barbeque there is a turbulent undercurrent of competition. Every spoonful of ambrosia salad taken by an oblivious man is being closely monitored.  Every chip dipped and double dipped by an unashamed child is a star by the name of its maker.  And she who goes home with leftovers is less the woman for it.
In some circles a woman's worth is based on her recipes.  A good one is like the housewife's equivalent to the philosopher's stone, turning a can a mushroom soup and hamburger meat into pure culinary gold. They are to be guarded and protected and only passed on to blood relatives.
Justin loves his mother's stuffing.  It's very good.  Of course it's not MY mother's stuffing, but it's good.  He was bragging today about how this recipe was passed down to her from her mother.
His Grandmomma was a good church-going woman, and very much a part of the circle of women whose recipes define them.  As I hear it, she was an excellent cook, and her pineapple pie was the envy of her peers.  One of her friends asked her for the recipe and she kindly obliged, but for some reason the pie she baked just didn't turn out as well.  
"Grandmomma was known to forget ingredients when she was giving someone a copy of her recipes," Justin said.
As he sat eating his stuffing with this gravy that has hard-boiled eggs in it (also a family recipe) he talked about how much he loved his mothers stuffing but, he said, "it's still not quite as good as Grandmomma's."
Even as the words came out of his mouth his eyes widened and he turned to me.
"She gave Mother that recipe before she died!"
Some recipes are so good that the creation must die with the creator.

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