me & les filles
My grandmother sat by the window. Always, in the same corner of the same couch. I would lean over the arm rest, my chin resting on my tiny hands, trying to ignore the prickly feeling of the couch's coarse fabric, and watch her. I was mesmerized by her fingers, long and slim, swiftly moving through meters and meters of wool - tic tac tic tac tic tac. When I cuddled up beside her, the quick succession of tics and tacs would slow down. She would look at me, hand me a new pair of knitting needles and guide my chubby fingers along the thread.
While I distinctly remember my grandmother teaching me how to knit, I have no recollection of ever seeing her bake. And yet, it is her name that stands at the top of this blog.
After all, it's at the tiny kids' table in the corner of my grandmother's crowded kitchen - full of objects, smells and people - that the seeds of my love affair with food were planted. It's through her recipes and stories, passed on and elaborated on by her daughters - my mother and aunts - that it grew and flourished. Undoubtedly, I owe my sweet tooth to the beautiful and delicious desserts les filles made and continue to make for special occasions as well as plain old Sunday nights, and I owe my skills to the countless afternoons my mother spent baking cakes with me in the kitchen. But the most valuable thing les filles de Madeleine have instilled in me, I am sure, is the deep sense of comfort, history and care connected to food in general and baking in particular.
More than just a sweet snack or a delicious treat, cakes and desserts are what connect me to my family history. Baking is what slows me down and grounds me in a world in constant motion. It fuels my relationships, brings up a plethora of (jumbled and hopelessly inaccurate) memories and invites me to pay attention to the people, world and produce around me. I truly believe that eating seasonal and local can bring back some of the wonder and excitement about food, that taking the time to cook and bake from scratch does wonders for one's well-being and sense of self, and that gathering around the table is as crucial as it is gratifying. I believe that food offers comfort, expresses love and care and builds on new experiences every day. It nourishes us, in so many ways beyond its mere nutritional value, and that's what I try to explore here.