Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Too Soon Too Late

Against my better judgement today I made homemade french fries. I've been sick with the flu and haven't been able to eat a full meal since late last week. I ventured to work this morning after the holiday weekend and was home again by lunch time. Too soon to venture out. Too soon to be fed. Too soon.

Dearest One was home so we sat and visited with one another before he decided he better go to the office for a bit. As he was getting ready to leave I looked at him and said, "Guess what I'm craving?" He joked about all sorts of foods he had been teasing me about eating earlier - foods that made me look for a container to throw up in - visions of canned spaghettios not one bit appetizing. (It's okay - he has a warped sense of humour and after 30+ years I've learned to laugh, too.)

I was craving homemade french fries. Even when I'm well they sit in my stomach afterwards like a lead balloon. A delicious lead balloon. However......

all my growing up years when one of us kids was sick my mom made us homemade french fries. It was our very favourite food - so favourite that in good times she stood at the stove for a very long time making them - giving us each a turn to have first dibs taking the biggest helping that came out of the fryer. When we were sick she just wanted us to feel better, tempting us with our favourite food in hopes that she could breathe a sigh of relief that we were truly on the mend. I don't recall that any of us ever regretted eating homemade french fries when we were sick. When we were faking we were sick she never cooked them(!)

Food has always been my mom's love language. She and her idetnical twin sister would sit on the phone, even though they lived just a few miles apart and watch cooking shows together, oohing and ahing over both what the chefs were cooking and what they were cooking food in.

Both of them had been drooling over this special cooking pan that all the food show chefs were using. They were hard to find and expensive. I finally found one for my mom for her 75th birthday and all us kids chipped in to buy it for her. She raved about how delicious the french fries were when cooked in her new pan. No need to cook them twice like she taught me growing up. They browned so nicely the first time around.

I always regretted not buying her sister one at the same time. But eventually I found another one and my mom told me she'd pay for it and give it to her sister as a surprise. I brought it home a few months later and my mom ,who doesn't have a much more than lick of spontaneity in her, was so excited to surprise her sister that we made an impromptu trip down the road.

When my aunt unwrapped the pan she looked at my mom and cried. She turned and hugged me. It was Christmas in the middle of summer. My aunt was in too much pain to be able to lift the (heavy) pan to the stove. Just a few days later her husband passed away unexpectedly. A month later she was diagnosed with bone cancer. A month after that she was gone. The pan never made it to her stove top.

Not long after the funeral one of my cousins brought the pan back to my mom and my mom told me she was setting it aside for me. I'd been home most of the summer and wasn't expecting to be there again for a year. My mom eventually had to cover the pan with a tea towel because it hurt too much to look at it. This past Christmas we made a last minute trip home and it was one of the things I brought back with me.

This afternoon, as I sliced the potatoes and skipped soaking them in water to get out some starch, I felt a weird kind of comfort.  I thought of my mom and her sister as I watched the potatoes turn the shade of scrumptious brown my mom said they would. I sprinkled them with vinegar and coarse sea salt and devoured every last one.

Years ago, after I'd made french fries for supper, I phoned my mom later that evening only to find out she had made them, too. Now every time I make them I call her to see if she had them today or yesterday or was planning on having them tomorrow. Ninety-nine percent of the time we will have made them within a day of each other if not on the same day.

Tonight I will call her and ask her what she made for supper. If I can find the courage.