I made a batch of mint jelly today, just like my grandmother used to do. There was nothing tastier than her mint jelly with lamb, peas and some mashed potatoes she’d serve in her British royalty tea-cup lined dining room. My first attempt went well; the colour is a lovely, glowing chartreuse and the taste is even better than I remember.
After I finished the jelly, I sat down briefly with Julia Child’s My Life in France, a recent gift from a close friend. I can’t wait to finish; the story has captured me immediately. It reminds me of my grandmother’s years in France–around the same time–where she, an American housewife, learned to cook a la francaise.
I am very close to my grandmother. She inhabits an important place in the narrative of my life. When she had a massive stroke two years ago, I inherited her copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, the second printing of the 1961 edition. Its hardcover is now nicotine yellow and the pages feel old and delicate between my fingers. After reading the introduction, I went to the bookshelf to retreive the book and scoured it for my grandmother’s notes–some indication of how she related to the recipes, how they shaped her cooking. Unfortunately, there were none. No trace of her remains in the book.