By Holly Tucker (Editor, Wonders & Marvels)
I spent this evening in the kitchen with my grandmother. My soulmate, she left this world eight years ago. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss her.
Tonight, I taught my daughter how to make my grandmother’s dumplings. I know the motions by heart. A large bowl, flour, salt, pepper, eggs. An even larger pot, filled with turkey stock, bubbling furiously. The rolling pin, gliding deftly across the dense, light-yellow dough. Not too sticky, not too dry. A butter knife slices perfect rectangles.
Just as my grandmother did with me, I allowed my eager daughter to roll out the first batch of dumplings–as I hovered nervously. There is an art of dumpling making. It is not a craft for novices. The dumplings have to be just right, not too thick, not too thin.
Ball after ball of dough, dumpling after dumpling cut. I picked up one up and sighed. My daughter gave me a worried look. “Am I doing it wrong?” No, oh darling No.
Feel how soft and smooth this one is? See how beautiful the edges are? I was in my grandmother’s kitchen. The alternating green and white tiles on her kitchen floor. The sound of my grandfather listening to Marty Robbins in the front room. The warm smell of Sunday dinner mingling with the pleasant, familiar mustiness of the country home where I spent long summer weeks and every holiday.
My daughter beamed proudly.
I have spent all of my adult life writing and researching the past. But tonight reminded me that if there is ever a past that we must never lose sight of, it is the one we each have lived–and those who have joined us, always too briefly, along the way.
Merci, grand-mère. Tu me manques plus que je ne pourrais jamais exprimer.