making almond cake with peach caramel and blueberry lavender scones. peach caramel congeals in my pocket. baking chocolate cake in a muscle shirt, trying not to stain it. slow, luxurious little bits of bliss, melting on my tongue.
home is not a physical location. it is a random assortment of things that you spend the rest of your life trying to find. it’s the sound of my mother’s voice, because my own accent changed. has changed irrevocably, i think, every time, until i call her and it comes back again for a while. changed so much i don’t hear myself when i speak anymore. i hear someone else.
different enough that i called my tax office and broke out in a sweat when they asked for my “unique voice print” as a security measure.
home is not a physical location but a song you can’t quite remember the words to, though you hum the melody just fine. little moments in your memory.
the way you say ‘basil’ and i respond ‘basil’. pikelets, a huge tower piled so high, eaten fresh, without butter or jam. pikelets auto-corrected to pickles, by the way. even my word processor doesn’t know what they are.
what else? god there’s so many things.
so many things i feel like i’ve forgotten. maybe when i come home for christmas i’ll remember them.
it’s mostly that you can make me smile so easily.
i cleaned the kitchen, top to bottom the other day. did the dishes. wiped down the counters. swept the floor. mopped it clean. took out the trash. then i realised, you weren’t here to help me with chores and hadn’t been for a year.
the scary part is feeling like i’m forgetting all of my favourite things about you all the time.
when i lived with you, i used to learn a new thing about you every day.
at least i have christmas, though. christmas — hot and sticky. backwards, because we still use the same decorations everywhere. snow, ice, fir trees. while i’m wearing a maxi dress that reaches the floor and letting mango run down my chin.
i’m learning fermentation. kimchi. sriracha. garlic honey.
it really is an art. and a science too. the first time i made kimchi, it was my best batch. i had no idea what i was doing.
but it turned out great anyway.
the second time, the house was too hot. or i added too much sugar. or not enough sugar. or too much salt. or not enough salt.
the sriracha turned out wonderfully, though.
i don’t want to say that fermentation feels like memory, but there’s something a little magic in suddenly remembering something i thought i’d forgotten all those years ago.
often, i’ll stand in the kitchen and think of you, and wish i could offer you food. count up all the things i didn’t get time to make you while you were here.
creaming butter, eggs, and sugar together becomes a quiet act of worship.
i remember when i was 14 and you showed me how to make spaghetti bolognese. cutting the onion was the worst part.
i can make it with my eyes closed now. by taste. by feel. more balsamic. more fresh herbs.
my love for cooking isn’t necessarily something i got from you, but it’s something that i had that came through you.
home is not a physical location. it’s the taste of the chocolate you sent me in the post for my birthday. it’s the tea you sent me that i have every day, with honey.
it’s making something and knowing one day i’ll make it for you and you’ll love it too.