Yesterday began with a brunch/early lunch of poached eggs on avocado toast and roasted tomato. It progressed to making focaccia and cookies — with no clean-up in between.
The island was covered. In flour. Utensils. Mixing bowls. My laptop. The crossword puzzle I was working on. My cup of tea. Various and sundry cutting boards. Knives. Spoons. Other ingredients. Olive Oil. Sugar. Everything I needed to make two different recipes. All at once.
I am blaming it on Covid — this way of cooking that, for all my free stylin’ ways, feels chaotic and frenzied while also calming and comforting.
It is the duality of life. Dark/light. Day/night. In/out. Up/down. Wet/dry. Love/hate. Peace/anger. Chaos/calm.
To know one is to welcome in its opposite.
In this time of Covid, I find myself creating chaos so that I can then savour the calm. It’s as though my body needs the darkness to know the light, the mess to appreciate the tidy.
Or it could simply be that to create an island of stability amidst the chaos of the world, I turn my kitchen island into a reflection of the world to find the peace within me.
And, as stay-at-home orders lift, and the world begins to return to a form of normal that is different than the same-old of the past, I want to cling to the bubble of serenity self-isolation has created in our home. My kitchen offers up a full menu of opportunities to savour the joy of cooking in the now while staving off the impending approach of opening up to the world outside.
Whatever the reason, I am spending more time in the kitchen than ever before. And in the process, along with the creation of delectable delights to please the palate of my beloved, as well as those I package it up for and deliver it to, I am creating a sense of the familiar. A connection to my past. My parents and my history.
There was a lot of chaos in my childhood. There was also copious amounts of joy.
Food was my parent’s love language. Food and meals brought us together. Creating food brings me closer to the past ways of being present in this world. It connects me to the comfort of old recipes and new. To old ways and new. To the spatula my father used for many years while baking. His rolling pin. His bread scraper. My mother’s little glass bowls for prep. Her handwritten recipes full of her tiny writing scrawled across lined pages with margins crammed with her comments.
Kitchen labours are nestled in the womb of my past. They are the umbilical cord connecting me to my family story.
I learned to knead bread under my father’s tutelage. To poach eggs guided by my mother’s voice reminding me to not overcook them. My sisters and I regularly share recipes and now, my daughters have joined in. We are all cooking. We are all talking about food and even sharing photos of our creations, both our successes and the not so successful ones too.
Immersed in food-imbued connections, Covid’s tentacles feel less deadly, less close. There is joy in flour scattered on the countertop. Laughter bubbles up with olive heating up on the stove, infused with rosemary and thyme. Smiles erupt as bread dough rises and the thrill of a freshly baked-to-perfection tray of cookies pulled from the oven in the nick of time.
And through it all, there’s memory’s beautiful long and winding threads bringing me home to where I find comfort in my kitchen. Through every ingredient, every carefully, or not so carefully, measured out scoop, every chop, every dollop of this or that, I find myself immersed in the joy of cooking my parents shared throughout their lives.
And as to the mess on the island… The larger the island, the bigger the mess. The more room I have to explore and create memories of meals past, present and yet to come. I am at home in my kitchen. It is the oasis I return to again and again, no matter the times or the chaos, to find peace and harmony in my world.
Cookies courtesy of Flourist.com