I was with my mother in her room at her new abode. I’ve mentioned in past posts that at ninety-nine she moved out of her apartment into the nursing home. Her eyes are failing her and though she is still able to see, reading is no longer a pleasure she can indulge in.
As I sat facing her, I began to read last week’s post, Cooking through a Child’s Eyes, about the time we baked a marble cake together. I wondered if she remembered the event that had so impacted the six-year-old little girl that I was. I read our pouring, mixing, and combining the ingredients until they were smooth, then creamy, and finally the consistency we needed. I continued with adding chocolate to one of the bowls and vanilla to the other; now, alternating between the rich chocolate and glistening yellow cream, we slowly and carefully poured both into the pan until it was full.
Out of the corner of my eye, I watched her listen as I described how surprised I was when she cut the cake and I saw the magical design that appeared on the cake slices; I expressed my bewilderment, not understanding how the cake could look like that.
As I got to the bottom of the page and there were no more words; I looked up at my mother’s face, and then into her eyes, hoping to see recognition. She didn’t say anything. I started to feel let down—sad that she didn’t remember the moment we’d shared, the one I remembered with such awe. All of a sudden, her face came alive with a big smile and she said, “I remember, that was a good cake—I love that you wrote it down into a story.” I couldn’t help but grin, feeling great that she too remembered that magical moment.
The ability to connect with my mother about a memory that happened so many years ago would not have happened, in the same way, if I hadn’t had the story to read to her.
I’m so grateful for everyone that emailed me to say they liked the story and would I please post the recipe. I found my mother’s original recipe in French. Instead of trying to translate it, I tested a few and found one that is delicious. Just to make certain it was Maman-approved, I packed it up so my mother could have some with her afternoon tea. Her reaction: “This is so good!” When she finished her entire slice, she added, “I’ve always loved marble cake.”
Of the three recipes I tested, this was by far the best. I found it on an interesting site called Munaty Cooking.
Marble Pound Cake Recipe
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Celine was a name that was synonymous with good food in my home. She was my grandmother’s cook. My mother still tells me stories about watching Celine in the kitchen. Her secret, she’d say in a hushed tone, was her sauces; sauces, she’d say with emphasis, are the secret to being a great cook. Celine didn’t . . .