November 29, 2010
Hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving! To ease you back into the work week, we’ve got a short, sweet Inviting Writing story about eating at Grandma’s house. Today’s featured writer is Elizabeth Breuer, an OB-Gyn resident in Texas who blogs about both medicine and food at Dr. OB Cookie.
By Elizabeth Breuer
Whirls of exhaled cigarette smoke filled my grandmother’s kitchen. She always stood at the counter with her lit cigarette, a neatly folded New York Times and a glass of wine, from a gallon jug stored neatly under the sink, filled with ice cubes. She incessantly flipped from The Weather Channel to CNN on a small television that sat just beyond the table, silently beaming out bold closed captions of the daily occurrences.
Her table was made gracefully. Atop a neat tablecloth perched an English porcelain bowl filled with fresh fruit—mostly grapes, though sometimes peaches or other local produce from the farm stand. While I sat the table sipping my orange juice, she would stand there puffing and thoroughly examining my life.
“Do you have a boyfriend?” That was always the first question.
Oatmeal cookies and blueberry pies would frequently end up in front of me. If they weren’t baked that day, they were taken from the industrial-size freezer—pies woken from hibernation to thaw in the spring for hungry granddaughters. We would sit and chat and nibble, the morning turning into afternoon to evening. A simple dinner of potatoes, shrimp and broccoli would suddenly appear, lightly drizzled in a thin layer of butter and a crumble of pepper.
Then we would eat more pie, with a scoop of vanilla Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. My grandparents would drink a whole pot of coffee and stay up chatting as I wandered up the creaky stairs of the 200-year-old house. In the morning, back down the creaky stairs, I would pack up my car with my clean and folded laundry, a tin of cookies and an “emergency” sandwich, and haul myself back through the mountains to school.
My grandma died a month before I graduated from college. I’ll always cherish the weekends we spent together in New England in her kitchen. I think she’d be happy to know that I love to bake pies and cookies, that I’ve still never smoked a cigarette—and that I do have a boyfriend, who I am marrying.
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