We have lost Christopher Robin’s mother recently, and her estate and all her things must be settled. CR is back in England taking care of it. As you read this, I will be on my way. It’s been challenging to stick to my writing schedule, worrying and feeling the upheaval, and that was my first thought for today’s blog—that I would talk about getting work done, making progress even when life turns upside down.
But it would be false because I haven’t been writing very much at all. I couldn’t tell you what I have been doing except taking a lot of walks and cooking like a crazy person. One night I sat down to a genuinely beautiful bowl of French onion soup, which happens to be one of my favorite comfort foods. The broth is a rich, deep vegetarian stock I’ve finally perfected after months of trying, the depth imparted by very slowly carmelized onions, and I was quite pleased as I admired it in the soup. Then I realized that I’d also baked the bread, a simple French bread that doesn’t keep well, so I make several baguettes and cut them in half and freeze them for later.
Such a cook I am! I thought to myself, digging in.
What has that to do with writing? It has a lot to do with my writing, actually. I seem to find stories in food and nourishment and the way we bring food to each other, the way we feed and coddle each other, the way some of us cook to heal or think or find connection to the simple act of feeding ourselves, creating something all in an hour or a day.
Cooking is what I do when I’m sad or lonely or need to think about a book—all of which I’ve felt here and there over the past week.
I’ve been thinking about the stories women leave behind, and how we can find them. I made sure CR knew to put aside all the photos until I got there, but I forgot to tell him to leave the kitchen alone. I want the chance to go through her cookbooks and recipes, make sure to gather her recipes, the ones she wrote by hand, anything that her mother might have written down, all the tidbits and notes women tuck into their cookbooks. I don’t mean this to be sexist in anyway, but Gina was of a generation that took pride in cakes prepared just so for summer gatherings, and fluffy white rice dotted with fresh green peas.
Imagine my distress when I learned that CR’s brother had been in the kitchen all day today, “throwing things away.” My dismay must have been written all over my face (we were Skyping), because he hurried to add, “The good news is, I’ve traded a tea set for stories from a WREN in the war.” [Read more…]