The Memory of Making

Morning haze over North Beach and the Atlantic

Morning haze over North Beach and the Atlantic

It’s officially the dog days of summer and my mind naturally wanders to the shores of the Cape and the warm salty air. My parents made a point of making a home away from home for us on Cape Cod in order for us to be near family and spend quality time with our grandparents growing up. I had both sets of grandparents until I graduated from college. My last surviving grandparent passed away about 4 years ago. That means I had 44 years of life with my grandmother! 

My grandparents were from another world. A hands-on, hands-in, do-it-yourself kind of world. I remember when my Dad’s parents would arrive at our home in Chatham. You could always count on a home-made lasagna, sauce and meatballs, and fresh Italian bread and cannoli from Faneuil Hall. It smelled great and it was always a special feast. Even if they arrived early in the morning. 

My Mom’s parents bought a home across town (and made a giant victory garden in the backyard). I distinctly remember walking up my grandparents stone walkway from the driveway into the house. More often than not we had come from the beach and were barefoot and covered in sand. No matter. My grandmother would have spent a good part of the afternoon making dinner for the whole family. To this day the smell in her kitchen is the scent you long for after a long beach day. We’d gather around the table for hours of laughs that would end with her famous chocolate cake or apple pie. 

I have always loved to cook. I come from a strong lineage of makers that came in the form of cooks. My Mom is, not surprisingly, a great cook. I have been lucky to feel a certain level of comfort in the kitchen. I watched both grandmothers and my Mom for my whole life. I saw more apple (insert fruit of choice) pies be made than I can count. Each time it was a little bit different. I wrote down the “recipe” early on but the magic was in what was never written. It was the sidebar with the tips and tricks that made those pies magical. It was that connection. The kind a you-tube video sorely lacks.

There is a great connection in making, no matter what form it takes. It happens between the lines and off of the instruction sheet. Some days the connection happens when you fail so badly that all you can do is laugh so hard you cry. Case in point: I have the hardest time getting yeast to activate. I went out and bought about 10 packets of yeast and brought them to my grandmother’s house. She was in tears as I went through my 10th packet in utter failure. The most simple thing eluded me. Until the day she died she would laugh uncontrollably that I couldn’t get yeast to activate. I still can’t. But I laugh pretty hard now when I try and fail. 

The memory of making is a special thing. Whatever you make, share the experience and the memory with those you love.