(The title of this blog reminded me of an Irving Berlin song and Grandpa Jack (far left) always looked like he belonged in an Irving Berlin picture.)
White Tiles and I go way back. No, it’s not some super-chic band you have never heard of, it is ,simply, WHITE tiles.
Somehow, wherever we live, there are acres of massive white tiles. Our old little house in Castle Hayne thoughtfully has them in the kitchen, main room, down the halls and in the bathroom. Our current house is a literal SHRINE to white tiles. In fact, we call this decor style “early 80’s Florida druglord” so overwhelming are the white tiles. And lastly, the bakery, both the kitchen and the shop side, 1800 square feet of WHITE TILE AND WHITE GROUT. Why? Dogs and Pigs and Kids and chickens and white tile are terrible BUT hundreds of pounds of coffee and cocoa and cherries and white tile? Who would come up with such a cruel floor covering? Mercifully, I find the instant gratification mopping supplies, to be cathartic and an excellent mind-clearer/thought generator. ESPECIALLY when I have gone wildly indulgent and treated myself to…A NEW MOP!
And as I was test-driving Monsieur Mop around 16 acres of bakery floor (before you get all huffy (MOM) Shawn always asks to mop, but it is so soothing to my overwrought brain at the end of a day, it gives time for all things I need to remember to ship, order, proof, mail etc to float to my forebrain so it gets done!) it occured to me that there was cold-comfort in the upcoming Memorial Day weekend this year for many people for many reasons. (OH, OH Guess what! The traffic with the NEW 10,000 BAZILLION DOLLAR BRIDGE STILL BACKS UP. Hmmmm.)
People yearning to escape cities- pretend everything is normal, locals not thrilled about a revolving door of people for 9 weeks, other locals desperate for $ boost after a squiffy 2019 courtesy of Hurricane Florence; that much dissension among the ranks makes for a level of discomfort. They are coming though, and READ-Y I am not.
Fortunately, I was given a 30 minute cosmic dose of comfort by the surprise return of Lynn Rossetto Kasper to Splendid Table! I have missed her show tremendously. Being able to hear a NEW interview with her was such a treat! Years ago, when I was doing Farmer’s Markets downtown, after the baking+packing, her radio show was on WHQR while we would be waiting in line at Thalian Hall to queue up parade-style, before all the cars could drive down to Water Street at 7:30 a.m. to begin setup. This was BEFORE podcasts and smart phones (2002 y’all) and I would sit in my truck full of hot breads, sipping Java Estate coffee and the mellifluous sounds of Lynne telling me fascinating stories of food. It was divine. Podcasts, though I love them, are not always the same as a live radio (though I absolutely ALWAYS turned off the callers. Not a fan of questions.) And here she was talking about how, in Italy, the bits that sink to the bottom of your pasta dish in a ragu’ are actually more like a second meat course! Something rich and delectable to be scooped up with a fork or a hunk of bread and just the telling of this simple act and the logic behind it was enormously comforting and cozy and transported me back 18 years, just like that.
With Memorial Day on the 25th, I have nothing to offer in terms of true comfort, other than to embrace tastes that take you back in time, or tastes that feel like travel. Food-driven memories are so very powerful. I was thrilled to have someone call me and tell me that they too had wonderful memories of gooey grilled cheese and tv nights as a child, and then brought to tears by someone emailing me that my baking came close to their mom’s. Of course, we all know that CAN’T be duplicated, but the idea of being able to feed people simple foods that are calming and give a few minutes of happiness is the best part of my work day.
Living in a military community, almost everyone you know will have a personal connection to someone lost in combat. Isn’t that a sombering sentence to say? But it’s true. Shawn lost a dear friend in combat years ago and so we will take a moment to share him here with you, letting him know he is always remembered and that you are remembering yours as well.
We remember. Remember the good and the sad. Use it to compare and steady yourself. Take comfort in small things, simple gestures. Send letters and cards. Claudia sent postcards! Granny Shirley just sent us a note full of old Guidepost clippings!
And at the end of your remembering, remember that we, here, are under Carolina bluest of BLUE skies right now, that you can always safely travel through your imagination, a good book, an exotic recipe or via Mary Poppins Transit and pretend to pop into a chalk painting and take off on a jaunt!
Sometimes, just a spoonful of sugar…
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