Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My father, my kitchen

My father passed away November 14. I am sad, but he has not been the person I grew up with for many years. That's the kind of effect that Alzheimer's and old age had on him: he remembered his family, but not what he did that morning. He could identify photos of old theatre colleagues from the 50s, but hecouldn't recall where he was in pictures I would show him from my childhood.

My dad was the one who taught me about art. He had me act as a prompter in a theatre production (I was 5, and an early reader) . He was the one who was up early on weekends, making pancake letters or chocolate crepes that we would fill with jam & icing sugar, or canned peaches & chocolate sprinkles. He was also famous for whipping up batches of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. In our house, two dozen usually lasted two days. In later years, after we had left home, he would bake them and bring them to a few older ladies in the community to make their day. I also remember meals he cooked that used ingredients I had never heard of before, like jicama root in salad.

He also had a huge impact on what I cook and the way I am in the kitchen.

When we cleaned out his house, I found copies of the first colour edition of "Larousse Gastronomique". I found a boxed set of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking", volumes I and II. I found cookbooks authored by Vincent Price and an edition of Great Tabasco Recipies. I found a Silpat cookie sheet. I found a strange implement for which I have yet to identify its use.

My favorite recipe book is the one that contains all my favorite recipes I photocopied from his cookbooks, and the ones that he sent us. He loved finding new recipes, and nifty kitchen gadgets. I remember him gesticulating wildly as he described his excitement at finding a rasp that could be used to zest lemon at Lee Valley Tools. I remember the emphasis in his voice as he talked about how easy it was to make avocado mousse..." You just take the avocado and the cream and you blend them together LIKE THIS. REALLY, it's SO extraordinarily EASY!"

His legacy will live on in my cooking, I hope: his love of experimentation, of taking a recipe and changing one or two ingredients, of hosting dinner parties with fun appetizers, and globally-inspired entrées.

I'm looking forward to talking to more people about my dad, and hearing their stories.

1 comment:

Pamplemousse said...

What a beautiful post Avra! I wish I had known him when he was younger.