In this time of enforced contemplation, I have realized once again how cooking seems to be my way of restoring some order when things are in disarray. When one of my athletic children would lose a game, I learned that cheery talk about their doing their best, etc., etc., just made them mad. They would slam their bedroom doors to sulk it out. Instinctively, I would, with a large family, go into the kitchen and begin stirring something up. As the fragrance began to seep under their doors, I noticed them coming into the kitchen, like nothing had happened, to check out what was cooking.
Then, once when our house burned down, we were invited to live in a friend’s house while her family was going to India for a month. For a while our normal was each living out of our personal suitcase in a strange home. I distinctly remember exploring her kitchen and began a batch of Chinese hot mustard. Again, it made things seem more” normal.”
After the first week of our present “stay at home,” I developed a huge craving for tuna noodle casserole. I searched the cupboards for cream of mushroom soup, and now, of all times, I was out. No problem, Amazon. Unfortunately others may also have had this craving as it was out of stock and my delivery would happen sometime in mid-April. So, I hit “Buy.” Recently, the package came and I realized why it had taken so long; it came all the way from Germany, and all of the ten packets say: “Zupa grzybowa.” I think that the picture on the front of the package must be “champignons” corresponding with “mushrooms.” The directions are in German, but with the encouragement of my scientist husband, I have converted to the metric system. 250 ml of water turned out to be about a cup.
Then, I saw it: the familiar word: “geschmacks.” My German speaking grandmother used to say that all the time, even when she hugged and kissed me. Back to the translator on my phone. Obviously she was saying she liked me so much she could eat me up. Good thing I didn’t know that as a 5 year old!
My Grandmother cooked, also. She had a life that was marked with the “un-normal.” The deaths of siblings and the depression and a child going off to war—many un-normal heartbreaks that made her stronger as she kept doing what seemed most normal to her. So, I am channeling her strength these days and finding perspective in remembering her life. I am going to be making a lot of tuna noodle casseroles with weird mushroom soup before it is all over and we once again learn to appreciate our new normal.