Maybe it was Mother's Day, maybe it was something my Aunt Dinah wrote yesterday, but I've been thinking of my grandmother all day today. There are a lot of directions my brain can go in when I get her stuck in my head, and today was no exception. Sometimes I think about the road trips from Michigan to Alabama, journeys that I'm convinced helped turn me into the road trip junkie that I am to this day. Then again there's the card games. My grandparents were voracious card players, and I was tossing my coins into the poker pot from a pretty young age. Sitting on my screened in back porch cradling a cold beer makes me think of her, too. I spent a lot of my youth hanging out on a front or back porch with them, although my drink of choice in those days was a bottle of Coke instead of the strong stuff.
She used to say that everything bad that happened to me happened when she was taking care of me. There was the fishing hook stuck in my hand, the time I fell out of a car when it rounded a corner right by my dad's store, and, in an amazing predictor of my future coordination, the time I got my head stuck when I hit the power window button as my head was hanging out the car window. She was a worrywart to begin with, but I think I made it a lot worse. Scratch that. I know I made it a lot worse.
But inevitably I go back to the food. Oh my god could my grandmother cook. Biscuits and gravy every morning for breakfast. Fried chicken. Homemade onion rings. Something she called skillet toast which I ate by the plateful. She did a banana pudding that could make you cry. And every time I would go to visit she would make my very favorite thing - a marinated broccoli and dill salad that gives me goosebumps just thinking about it. She gave me the recipe before she died, and I've made it a few times, but somehow it just doesn't taste the same. I'm a pretty decent cook, but for some reason I have no luck cooking anything that I associate with her. It always tastes just the slightest bit off.
But tonight I was grilling burgers and roasting potatoes. Corn was cooking on the stove, and almost without thinking I started making a cucumber and onion refrigerator pickle that she often had in the fridge. I used to eat it until I felt queasy. Just the process of slicing the veggies and putting it all together in the bowl made me feel like she was right there with me. And when Sasquatch came in and attacked the bowl I had to smile. I told him - like she had told me - that they needed to sit for a while before we ate them. And - like me years ago - he kept eating them anyway, telling me they tasted just fine the way they were.
In her own words, that would have tickled her to death.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Posted by the rotten correspondent at 12:02 AM