Sunday, February 21, 2010

The day brings an epiphany and salmon

"Grandma, what's heaven like?"
"I don't know. When I go there, I will come back and tell you, all right?"
"Okay, Grandma."


Maria Theresa - known in the USA as "Tessie" died when I was 11. There was so much I didn't know. So much I am finding out - about all my grandparents and great grandparents.
`
Yesterday, I came home from a challenging and poignant day. I put my pots on the stove and improvised. I thought a lot about why I cook. And why it has grown in importance the older I get. Yes, I love to eat. Yes, I want to pass down my heritage to my children; "yes" to all answers regarding cooking and family and organics and local ...

I have been researching the foods and recipes of Basilicata. Grandma did not hand down any recipes. It was all what was fresh, what was handy and all was cooked according to what was "right" by the seeing and "delicious" by the tasting.
`
I added some oil to my pot. Sliced cabbages and onions and thyme. Threw in a pad of Earth Balance butter for creaminess. Sauteed. Added some wine. Simmered. Added some orange juice. Stood over the stove. Stirred. Added the salmon.


How could I have not realized that I cook to find my grandparents... that I cook to talk to them because I was too little when they were here or they were gone before I was here. I cook to find them and ask them questions.

Grandma did not come back to tell me what heaven was like. Or, I missed the call. But she's inside me, guiding me... telling to to look, taste and feel. Throw away the recipe and pay attention to what you are doing.
`
When I cook, I am doing something that has been done through the ages. I am connected. And I have many guides, many loves and a wealth of inspiration.


48 comments:

pegasuslegend said...

Oh my I have the goosebumps! I share a little of that memory in my own family, my mom's mother died before I was born and barese, have no idea what she cooked at all. But mom would make her barese wine cookies all the time. She died in her 60's. To them that was old. Geesh! What a beautiful post in her honor. I love this. I have to tell you the salmon is indeed mouth watering ...no kidding I love salmon for the omega oils and its cholestral fighting factors, so we eat alot of that, always looking for new ways. I love it with orange marmalade, never thought to do the oj...nice touch thanks to your grandma she diffinitely is watching over you, and your so lucky to have great genes! thanks to you both!!! love this post xxxxoooo

Vrinda said...

Salmon cooked in orange juice and butter...wow sounds so flavorful and yumm...i had tried shrimp with orange juice,gr8 recipe....

Foodie with Little Thyme! said...

Claudia,
I love it. I loved reading this post. Going on this journey with you has been such a joy for me.
Thanks you!

Wanda said...

Your post was so touching Claudia. I was improvising while cooking today too...I love tasting it first in my mind and then tasting the real results.

Next time I have salmon, I will do it your way!

denise @ quickies on the dinner table said...

Claudia this recipe, wonderful as it is, is only a bonus on your beautiful and stirring story. I envy your rich heritage, your memories and your gift for expression. Thanks for a great recipe, btw :)

Gera @ SweetsFoodsBlog said...

So deep post Claudia! I've had similar dialogs with my grandparents...cooking is a way of reminder people and thoughts. Lovely salmon recipe.

Have a great week!
Gera

5 Star Foodie said...

I feel the same way about my grandma & finding her and her dishes in my cooking. She also didn't use any recipes and I am always trying to recreate her dishes by the memories of the tastes and smells of her kitchen.

Your salmon looks spectacular in this delicious preparation!

Cinnamon-Girl said...

This was so sweet Claudia. You made me teary because I can relate - I could never put it into such eloquent words as you. What a lovely preparation for Salmon - love the flavors.

Kim said...

You have a wonderful way with words Claudia! That was a beautiful post and one that I'm sure your grandma would love - so very sweet!

That piece of salmon looks outstanding!

Mary said...

The recipe is wonderful but your memories are a treasure worth a king's ransom. Your own children will one day be so glad you recorded them. Have a wonderful day. Mary

Foodie with Little Thyme! said...

Yes and Thank you!
I hope you do try it and let me know what you guys think.
Hugs!
Cassie

Barbara GF said...

I think your Grandma is smiling down on you from heaven, Claudia. I swear, I channel my mother when I am in the kitchen. Lovely post!

Nancy said...

Lovely post. Isn't it wonderful how cooking connects us both to the past and to the present moment as well. The salmon looks delicious in its intensely colored and velvety-appearing broth.

janet said...

Claudia, you always touch my heart with your writing. I so enjoy coming here!

Velva said...

Sustaining our bonds with one another can be easily done through the grace of sharing a meal together.
Your post was wonderful and reminds me of the importance and the value of food both for health and for our values.

Chow and Chatter said...

yummy salmon, so moist

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Such a lovely message and so beautifully written. You're connecting with your Grandmother each time you cook.

Elisa, Croatia said...

What a lovely post. Loved it from beginning to end. And you are right,cook with your heart. My mom never follows recipes and I'm always trying to imitate her cooking. It never seems to taste as delicious. Maybe I'm not "paying attention?"

Saludos,
A Mexican mommy living in Europe

bonnie said...

How beautiful--grandmas are the best!! What a great dinner- oj and salmon go great together!!

sweetlife

Katy ~ said...

Wonderful poignant post. Oh, gosh, when I think of my own beloved grandmother, I feel the pain of loss and longing that has never left my heart.

Choices said...

I came across your blog at Wanda's blog, Moments of Mine. Such a heartwarming post about your grandmother. Also, love all the recipes. The salmon dish sounds wonderful. We eat lots of salmon, so I will try that the next time. Will come again to share your world.

alwayswinner786 said...

It's a touching post Claudia!
My father use to share many of my Grand mom' recipe but both of them now are resting in peace and my Mom and I try to recollect some from our memories to bring back the taste.
Yes we are connected because loved one's resides in our heart.

Katherine Aucoin said...

Claudia, this was such a touching post. I can feel the love and urgency in your cooking and your grandmother seems to be guiding your hand and crativity so beautifully.

OysterCulture said...

Great post, this is special. I feel the same way about my grandmothers. I love how cooking really connects you to them. Thanks for sharing.

figtree said...

Wow..so touching. I too cook to remember and honor my mom. Thank you for the touching post.

unconfidentialcook said...

How lovely! What a pleasure of a post!

Eleonora said...

Touching and so true, I conect with my cooking guru (nonna) each time I hover over a simmering pot.

The dash of orange juice in that salmon recipe was genius.

Ciao friend!
Eleonora

Sinful Southern Sweets said...

Very nice post. And a delicious looking dish!

Bridgett said...

I think we are guided by passions from the past, either by the handing down of recipes or watching our grandmothers or mothers cooking away. My grandmother has handed down recipes but is incredibly protective about my sharing them. I guess they are that dear to her heart! Everything you create is perfect as usual.

theUngourmet said...

Such a beautiful, touching post. Your salmon is beautiful as well! I used to buy Earth Balance all the time. I need to start again, I've been using way too much butter! :D

sunita said...

What a beautiful post, yes, food does bind the generations together.I'm lucky to have one of my grandmas alive and for me, she is the most fantastic cook.

Lori Lynn said...

Lovely post Claudia. You are a fortunate woman.
LL

creampuff said...

So, so beautiful. Wow. One of the most beautiful blog posts I've ever read. And you're right, it's inside of us and all we have to do is listen and let it out. What a beautiful dish!

CheapAppetite said...

Very beautiful story. Although I'm not Italian, but this story is also reminding me of my own grandma. Thanks for sharing:)

Proud Italian Cook said...

Beautifully said Claudia, your Grandma is guiding you indeed!

My Little Space said...

I've never seen my grandma before. She died when my dad at the age of 2 months old. It was war time... when Japanese attacked Malaysia in year 1942! And my grandpa just passed away several years ago, at the age of 90. I told him to look for my grandmother on the day he left. Eventhough, I've never seen her before but I could felt her wherever I go. And my mom's father went back to China with his first wife when she was a kid. My mom lived with her older sister since then. My grandmother was mentally ill and was hospitalized since she was a baby. And passed away in later day! SO, I've never seen both of my grandmothers before! My mother has only attended one year primary school but she can read all the newspapers. Believe that! I'm really proud of her.

Joanne said...

Wonderful way to cook/poach salmon. Such a heart warming blog.
Thanks tons for commenting on my blog and allowing me to find you.
A new adventure in my blog tours.
Super!

Jen_from_NJ said...

What a beautiful and touching post! I am so glad to have found your blog. I will definitely be visiting. Your salmon looks perfect!

foodcreate said...

Yummy Salmon ! I love this fish so tasty looks so delicious ~


Thank you for your sharing your recipe :)


Have a awesome day ~

Cathy said...

What a wonderful post, Claudia. I believe we stay connected with our roots through our cooking. I'm happy when I prepare something for my family the way my grandmother would have done it.

joe@italyville said...

wonderful Claudia... I'm sure your nonna would be proud.

A Feast for the Eyes said...

I loved your story. My roots are strongly rooted in Southern Germany (Bavaria). My Oma was a fantastic cook. My Mutti learned from her. I learned from my Mutti. While they are both gone, now, sometimes I feel as I am a medium for them... guiding me, inspiring me. It sounds a little corny, but they've been the center of my love of cooking. It's therapeutic, isn't it? I loved the ingredients you used, and have never thought to use orange juice. Wonderful! So glad you visited my blog, so that I could discover the treasures in your kitchen.
Debby

Sophie said...

Hello Claudia!!

Brussels calling!! What a lovely written post, well said, too!

I cook & bake a bit like my grand mother: adventurous, mostly healthy but with a personal twist!

Ruth said...

I think she did come back to tell you what heaven was like. Heaven is being able to look back and see that you enjoyed and made the most of what life had to offer. To be proud to have been able, in spite of any hardships, to share yourself and your love for others. what better way to do it but through cooking. As you quite rightly said, everytime you cook, you communicate with her, your bring her heritage and love back and flourish a new generation with it. Thats what heaven is about, looking back, knowing you did and loved as much as you could. Follow the instinct within you, her hidden words and you know just what flavours to combine to bring such a wonderful fish alive, then sit back, enjoy and feel alive!! Another amazing recipe straight from the heart!

Mary, CookEatShare Author Support said...

I’d like to personally invite you to join the CookEatShare Author network. CookEatShare has had over 2.5 million unique visitors in 2009, and I think they will be interested in your content. Users will be guided to your actual blog, so this is a free way to increase page views and visitors to your site.

Please contact me at mary@cookeatshare.com for more information, to get unique link to claim and customize your profile. Please visit http://cookeatshare.com/blogs/apply for additional information.

Joy said...

I love this post so much Claudia, food really does have a powerful connection and it is so wonderful that you are now cooking through the memories of your grandmother. Though she never came back to tell you what heaven was like, I can surely guarantee she is up there sporting a HUGE smile :)

Claudia said...

Thank you all for such heart-felt responses. Please know how appreciative I am.

tasteofbeirut said...

I can totally relate. I think that's why I started my blog.
Thanks for a great article.