Unique New York

Just like a regular woman, only crankier.

Monday, October 04, 2004

It's not just melted cheese

This weekend, I had a really cool reminder that my ancestors are around and watching over me. Pay close attention, and don't get turned off by the use of the word "fondue".

My roommate and I decided we were going to make fondue yesterday. This is a big deal, because until now, my fondue set had gone unused. My mom gave me this set when friends of ours were remodeling her kitchen, and they cleaned out her cabinets. The set was given to her as a wedding present when she and my father were married in 1977. The fondue set was still in its original plastic. It has a big red pot and awesome walnut accents.

I was opening the set to see how we lit the little thingy under the pot, since I have never done this before. You know that feeling you get when you open a birthday present someone sends to you like a month after the fact? Magnify that feeling and add it with the feeling of opening a time capsule. It was way cool.

I started pulling out the different pieces, when I saw this note at the bottom of the box. I immediately recognized it as my great-aunt Loretta's hand writing. She had this perfect cursive that I would give my left tit for. As confirmation, I saw she had written the note on her husband's stationary with his letterhead at the top.

I pulled the note out. It was a recipe for Banana Sour Cream Coffee Cake. One side had all of the ingredients, and the other had her directions for baking it. I was crying, this was so cool.

Why was I crying? My Aunt Loretta was a huge part of my life. She was the one who told me to always wear matching underwear, "just in case". She willed me all of her handmade clothes. She was very ladylike, and one of the kindest and most wonderful women I have ever met. She was boisterous, a story-teller, and just the kind of woman you want your little girls to have as a role model. She was refined and she never took any shit. I had the opportunity to help take care of her as she was dying. My mother took her in, even though she had 3 other children. It was the least we could do to honor this woman that brought so much to our lives. She was the youngest of her sisters, and her two other sisters (my grandma being the oldest), are still living. She was the kind of woman legends are made out of. In short, I miss her a great deal and all the funny shit she used to tell us.

Along with all of the other cool things that she was, she was an excellent baker. She never used recipes, and the women in our family and most of her neighbors would literally cry to know how it was that she made such amazing confections in her little kitchen. She used to tell us that if we wanted to know how she made her things, we would simply have to watch her and write it down. When my parents were married, Loretta gave them this recipe as a gift. It is the only recipe she ever wrote down. That's how special it was. My mom must have put this in the bottom of the box for safekeeping. It has been very safe, for 27 years.

Many of my aunt's recipes died with her, but this one survived my parent's short lived marriage. It's not every weekend that I get a recipe from the beyond.


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