“Three children, an older girl and two boys following. They all ate the same things but each liked different things. You know, the youngest just wanted cakes and sweet things. There wasn't a breakfast where I didn't leave home to buy him a cake because bread was unnecessary for him. Sometimes I would come home from the market with cakes for us to eat at home with tea or coffee, and they wouldn't last until the end of the day. It was just like that, sweets and more sweets. I'm convinced that if he were alive, my boy would have diabetes because it was something out of this world with such food.”
He was the youngest, I never got to see him grow up. I heard about him countless times. As many times as allow me to say today that if I saw him on the street I would recognize him.
"The older ones also ate very different things. The middle one, for example, when he was younger only liked to eat bread with butter and chocolate mousse. Oh, so much bread with butter he ate. Then sometimes before leaving home in the morning he would ask me what was for lunch. I would tell him what I was planning. He would leave and when he came back if by chance I had made something else, he would immediately tell me he had been thinking about it all morning and now he couldn't eat it. It was just like that, these cravings, he had appetites for things he thought of and then until it passed, I had to make them."
Rice pudding is one of those things I can't forget. Sitting waiting for it to finish cooking to attack the leftovers in the still hot pot makes me a happy person. But then there's the roasted kid, the tripe, the stewed chicken. And there's the pork with lobster whose recipe I won't give even if they pay me.
"If you ask me if I think I cook well... I don't know. Everyone at home liked the food, if they liked it I didn't care about anything else. But there are things that must have tasted good to them. My son, for example, before getting married, brought his girlfriend home and asked me to make sea bass pasta. For us, it was something we ate often, I made it, they liked it. Almost 20 years later, my daughter-in-law still told me she had never forgotten the taste. It's good to know this but I don't get vain. I just wanted them to like it and be well and that's it."
The water boiled, she added the rice and kept stirring. She also heated the milk until it boiled, then turned off the heat and started cleaning up the mess, throwing away ingredients she no longer needed. She cracked the eggs. It's stirred differently from a few years ago but the hair is exactly the same. The gesture of tasting the rice is also the same but I think it takes longer now. I also think it tastes better to her.
She tells me there are things she has always loved to eat. Apart from fish, she never says no to suckling pig. She also tells me she loves sweets. Mousse, caramel custard, rice pudding, crème brûlée. Whatever there is. "Now I don't cook as much. But my grandchildren also like my food. I mean, they say they like it but now there's so much food out there that I even get lost. They talk to me about sushi and I love fish so much I can't imagine myself eating raw fish. They know best, as long as they eat well that's what matters."
She cracked the eggs, mixed in the sugar. After the rice boiled, she gradually added the milk, never all at once "so we can see what we need, there are no disasters here".
I've known her for 36 years. She was the first person to see me in the maternity ward, after my parents and the medical team, of course. When she arrived at the hospital nursery with my father, he no longer knew which of the babies was his. He had only seen me for two seconds before going to fetch her. In front of the nursery window, like a showcase of life, he said to her, “Look mom, I don’t know which one it is, you choose” 😅 But my grandmother pointed and said "it's that one". And it was, and I am, and I have done what I can to be. The son who asked for the sea bass pasta was my father, the girlfriend who still remembered the dish 20 years later was my mother (part II)
My grandmother taught me that cooking is one of the best ways to show others how much we care about them. And so many other things that have nothing to do with food but add flavor to life.
I hope that wherever and with whoever you are, you have a happy time. Without fear. Of gratitude, empathy, health.
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