Sunday, December 7, 2008

We are what we make, not what we buy!

I had just clicked "send" on my All Users email for my co-workers birthday, when it seemed instantly, an attorney from our office sent me a message from his blackberry at court "did you make that awesome pie/cake thing". I emailed back, "yes, and fudge too," and the reply came immediately, "can you save some of it for me because when I get back it will be all gone." And as predicted, when he did come into the office, the foil tray was in the garbage, virtually licked clean. My nephew had a housewarming party yesterday, invites went out quite a while ago, but on Monday he called, and after some idle chit chat, asked if I could make "your meatballs". This is what I called the curse recipe, because once you bring this dish to an event, you are forever, for the rest of your life doomed to have to bring it again. I have renamed it Peggy's curried meatballs, as my mother had torn it out of some newspaper, and the worn and stained clipping was tossed from drawer to drawer over the years until it actually was lost. Thankfully, a friend had diligently copied down the recipe while my mother was making it and years later, nonchalantly said, "oh, that recipe, I have it." It's not that I mind making it, but it is a two day project. You have to make all the meatballs, not spaghetti and meatball size, but those little appetizer size, as uniform as you can get them, and make sure they don't burn. Then you make the special sauce and you have to soak the meatballs in the sauce in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours so everything blends. Then the day of the event, you have to put them in a crockpot for at least six hours to heat, because these are not the throw in the microwave type of food. Yea, it is a curse, but the expression on everyone's face first when you walk into a party with them, and second, as they are savoring their third and fourth helping, all makes it worthwhile. I think everyone has their special dishes, and there is always that person in the family that you associate with a special food. Food that is made from scratch, time consuming, multi-step, always tastes just right, a creation. And that how it is with the artisans in this market. Anyone can pick up a machine made mass marketed scarf, but how many people can crochet or knit one, choosing the yarn, choosing the stitch, all with the intention of sharing a craft, giving of yourself and creating a memory. Whatever the product, the fact that is hand made is special, unique and lasting. I just can't imagine being associated with some mass produced, big box store , grab from the freezer, shove in the microwave speciality, and come to think of it, I have never heard anybody rave about Mary's Sara Lee cake, or Laura's bagel bites, or John's Beefaroni. The fact that people associate the creator with the creation, like Aunt Edna's apple pie, or Aunt Alice's doilies, those are the things that last, that endure, that fill hope chests and are passed from generation to generation. Things that are made by hand, by people,and with the love and joy of the creator.

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