On this May 8th, I want to wish a happy Mother’s Day to my grandmother. And also say that I wish she was still here with us. Years ago, I would never have considered speaking nicely about her. You see, my mom and aunts all dumped their children on her and was left with the task of raising 12 kids. I know my cousins loved her; as for my brother, sister, and I, she was the most evil woman we’ll ever meet. I’ll save the details for another blog, so for now I’ll just say that not a day went by without her beating us or abusing us.
Aside from all the abuse though, what I remember the most was her food. Yes, she always fed my cousins better. She would give “them” the chicken drum stick and give “us” the neck and feet. Luckily for me, I grew to love chicken necks (and hearts). But what I remember the most about her food is how everything was natural. I wish she was still here so she could teach me how to make everything from scratch.
On hot days, she would spin ice, heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla for us. What we ate depended on the season. Summer time meant figs, oranges, lemons, and guavas. And that mean fresh OJ, lemonade, guava paste and fig jelly.
As a child, Halloween meant one thing, candy! But looking back, it marked the beginning of autumn. And with this season came empanadas. If huela was here, I would watch her every move as she carved the pumpkin and cooked the insides. Roasted seeds were a nice snack, but what I truly miss are the desserts she made with the “pumpkin guts”. Think pumpkin or sweet potato filling in a sealed puff pastry taco.
I didn’t know it then, but when my grandmother died, she took with her so many recipes of my Mexican Indian ancestors. I hated it as a child, but right now I would give anything to rub my thumbs raw removing kernels from dried corn, milling them into a grainy powder, and making fresh tortillas with it. I miss those days.
Grandma, raising so many of us must have been hard. It has taken me years to forgive you, but as an adult, I truly appreciate everything you did for us. And despite all the abuse, you left me so many great memories.
I want to thank you for:
- Raising chickens, pigs, geese, and all the other animals I can’t remember.
- Feeding us fresh eggs, poultry, pork, honey, and all the other things you must have slaved over.
- Growing lemons, figs, pomegranates, guavas, and all those other delicious fruits I love because of you.
- Cooking practically everything from scratch, real scratch.
You may have hated raising so many of us. You may have favored some over others. But if like me, you showed your love with your cooking, then I just want to say, I love you too huela!