The Book of Common Fare
Somewhere, in the warm hearth that is Grandpa’s house,
where cooks and non-cooks gather round,
is Grandma’s recipe book—
nestled in with the spices,
smelling of cloves,
the pages yellowed and crisp with age,
like apples dried in the sun.
The slip of the paisley-printed,
cloth-covered book is beginning to show,
like a naughty woman whose mystery remains unsolved.
There are no glossy, full-color photos,
but little handwritten notes in script like hieroglyph
about moments long forgotten—
snippets of time left in an old scrapbooking box
like bits of ribbon or bobs of yarn.
It is a diary of love for all things molasses,
a legacy of labor consumed,
for every time one of her grown granddaughters
cook one of her recipes,
her presence once more felt,
and it’s like she’s come back for a Christmas visit
with her thousand-carat fudge,
a Thanksgiving gathering
with her cornbread chestnut dressing,
always served on Wedgwood blue like it was the finest feast.
They didn’t stack their food like Jenga back then
or smear this thing called “coulis” on the plate
or cook with this abomination called “margarine”.
Twas was all simple fare from a complex woman
who learned not from the likes of Julia Child,
but from her mother,
who learned from her mother;
she learned by doing,
not by watching,
and every time someone cooks one of her recipes,
the aroma goes straight up to heaven,
and she smiles like the sunbeam
that used to brew her summertime tea.