We were asked to share a food story yesterday. Listening to a dozen of my classmates recount heart wrenching, humorous and exotic tales I searched my own memories. In the end, it was more than sharing. I felt I discovered something deeper.
Alice. Mama as I like to call her has always been my idle in life. And in the kitchen of course. An afternoon perched on a stool at her counter is one of my happiest places. There’s magic that happens there. Something can come from nothing. This is what has drawn her to baking bread over the years. Flour. Water. Yeast. Oil. In it’s various combinations the simplest ingredients produce endless results. Her sentiment on the subject has long stayed with me: There’s something so grounding about mixing and kneading dough. It’s an act of reconnecting with the earth and what can be made of it. It doesn’t take much. Just the right proportions, timing and heat.
A few years ago we decided to try a recipe for brioche style cinnamon rolls. My dad always reminisced about the ones my mama used to make for him when they were just starting out. I’ve always liked the image he paints of her cooking. Like a work of art. In the kitchen that evening, my mama, sister and I set out the ingredients and recipe and got to work. It was our usual routine until it wasn’t. In our untypical haste we hadn’t proofed the yeast and the dough hadn’t risen. At 11pm my sister and I threw the kitchen towel in. Mama apparently wasn’t giving up though. The next morning I came downstairs to the scent of cinnamon, caramel and almonds. The fireplace was on and next to it was a large bowl wrapped in a blanket covered with a kitchen towel. Staying up most of the night, my mama had literally nursed this dough to life. All it had needed was more time, warmth and patience. All we felt was gratitude. All we tasted was a work of love.