Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Gravy Connections

My mom’s homemade gravy, bubbling and steaming, is prepared exactly the same way Nana cooked it. Small spatters of red on the white stove mark the perfectly stirred combination of puree, meatballs, sausage, a carrot, an onion and spices. Recipe sharing was done only in the kitchen, in front of the pot, with the appropriate stories shared along with the instructions. My mouth watering, I look around for a slice of pure white bread to dunk into that pot; I used to sneak the bread-dunking routine when I was a kid. It’s fun that I can dunk in front of Mom now. Mom tells me her mother-in-law taught her all the family’s Italian recipes. It was the in-law rite of passage.

What’s so interesting and delicious are the feelings evoked with the wonderful smell of that gravy—the nurturing, the sharing, and the indulging. The traditions themselves don’t matter; what does matter is the closeness they represent. How perfect that our traditions are about “gravy”. The expression “it’s gravy” means it’s “extra”; similarly, our traditions with the food result in the connections which are the “extra”. Why, I’ve always wondered, is it always about the food? Sharing a meal forces us to slow down enough to sit and talk with each other. These connections are lost in the usual schedules of our lives. No wonder I love the gravy so much. Pass the white bread please.

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