Before Instagram took the fun out of writing descriptions of the meals I was cooking, before Facebook fully revealed itself as an evil degenerator of democracy, I used to write about the big meals I was cooking, not to show off so much as to metaphorically invite everyone into my kitchen. Tonight I have that same urge. So here’s what.
Short ribs were on massive massive sale at Whole Foods, whose weekly emailer I scan like my grandmother Alice clipped coupons from the Sunday paper. I bought four pounds of them, figuring that as long as it remained cloudy I could pretend it was 45 rather than 65 degrees and freeze the leftovers for colder weeks to come. And so, with Mercury retrograde as the perfect excuse to stay far from the madding crowd, I put on an apron and the Bach cello suites my gran discovered she adored while listening to the radio in her own kitchen.
I salt-and-peppered the ribs, chopped parsnips and potatoes and carrots and onions and garlic, created a braise with horseradish and rosemary and thyme and mustard and tomato paste and vinegar, and filled my apartment–my whole building, really–with the meal she would have fed her family in 1955. When her children were all under one roof, when her husband was working in the textile mills down the street, when her sister lived next door with her two girls and a big apron of her own, when all she had to do was fill a big pot and wind her timer, then tuck in with a juicy novel from another country and century as her family grew all around her.
This time between autumn and winter equinox is always about the ancestors–about the worlds they inhabited and the legacies they left—and it feels good to cook in congress with my line. Another way to say it: I’m grateful to visit my gran.