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Thoughts on food and Mimi
5:14 p.m. - 2002-07-20

There is something about the Costco store with all that meat in big packages just waiting to be made into delicious things. Yesterday I got a big package of pork shoulder which I simmered, soon to be made into a variety of lovely Mexican things like pozole and tacos. I find myself thinking about meat a lot, must need more iron. I never crave salad.

When I was young my grandmother used to come up from the Imperial Valley every summer to spend two months with us. It was always a treat for us, but now that I am an adult with a mother-in-law of my own I wonder how my mother survived this yearly invasion without beaning my grandmother. While she was here, my grandmother, Mimi, used to cook the best food. She made fatigmans, a Northern European fried pastry, which took forever to make and a few minutes to eat, tamales, and other Mexican dishes, and tried to get us to eat things she enjoyed from her childhood in Mexico like guava jelly (shudder). She was a very interesting person, my grandmother, but as is usually the case, I only think of all the things I would like to ask her now that it is way too late.

She was skilled in all the needle arts and tried to teach as much as possible to me. I learned to knit, crochet, tat, make fishing nets (which I have forgotten, not having found much call for this in my suburban life) and sew. She had very long hair which she wore in a coronet around her head. Every morning she would brush out the long long hair and french braid it into the coronet, her clever fingers doing their work without her even needing a mirror. The hairdo gave her a great dignity and presence. When she was very old, almost ninety, no one knew how to do the braiding, so my uncle took her to a beauty shop and had her hair cut off. I was away at college. It made it easier to take care of her, but I felt they had stripped her of her dignity, and she always looked disheveled after that.

She was very prudish in the way older people from that generation were. She was born in the 1890's. I remember once asking her how long she had been married. She said "Guess!" and I being a child, chose what to me was an enormous number and said "35 years". She was very insulted, telling me "Your FATHER (her son) is 41!!!" I didn't get it at the time, but now think this is hilarious. Another time I was watching the movie To Kill A Mockingbird and asked her what rape was. This totally threw her for a loop, and she primly said, "It's not very nice!"

I think about her alot these days because we have a new temp at work who is from Venezuela and her accent is just like Mimi's for some reason. I like listening to her talk.

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