I used to think that my mom was the only one obsessed with recipes that were passed down from her mom (my nana), her grandma (my great grandma) and so on…
On this particular day, I met a young lady whose love (or obsession) for cooking is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Her basement was full of recipe books stacked almost up to the ceiling. And, no they were not your regular recipe books, cook books or magazine cutouts. (that is what I do because I love cooking when I’m in the mood)
All the recipes there were drafted on pieces of heavy fabric, written in quill. And that’s not the end of it. She had actually stapled and taped pieces of raw foodstuffs to each recipe, perhaps to ensure that she used the exact ingredients? Why didn’t she use pictures instead?
There was this book left open on one of the shelves in there. It had a very thin slice of dried red meat, kale (sealed in a baggie) and cinnamon sticks, clover, a strand of rosemary and some strands which appeared to be corn silk taped at the center. There were a couple other ingredients that I couldn’t make out. It was like something you would find in a Harry Potter’s Potions class.
Each and every page was carefully put together and stitched up such that none of the pages stuck together when you shut the book. A step closer to the massive stack of the recipe books and I was engulfed in a cloud of a cacophony of orders that made my eyes watery. Mold was already growing on some of them.
Next to the stack of recipe books, there was an open squeaky cupboard filled with transparent jars. More ingredients and spices? I couldn’t tell, every jar had a tiny sticker on it, the only thing that I could clearly tell from where I stood was a jar of pickles. The rest were arranged in order of depth of color, from the lightest to the darkest. Some were as light as water while others were thicker than porridge.
Just before I left, she came to the garage to write me a quick check and that’s when she noticed that she’d left her book open on the shelf. Apparently, that’s the recipe she was working on for dinner. She stared at her recipe book for a moment, went to the cupboard, picked one of the jars, blew off the dust and it was funny how awkwardly she sneezed after that. She shook the jar a bit and the settled sediments mixed up with the rest of the jar into an emulsion and she then hummed her way to the kitchen.