We are winding down the last bit of this shitshow of a year. I’m eager to say goodbye and good riddance to this bullshit called 2017. All my bad feelings felt through 2017 were placated through the magical powers of food and booze. A special shout out here to red wine, whiskey and pho. You truly made 2017 bearable.
This year I ate at my favourite places, new places, cheap places, fancy places, local places and international places. I ate like my life depended on it. I ate with reckless abandon fueled by gluttony, hunger and desire. I ate and regretted nothing. However, the one thing that I missed more than anything during my crazy busy piece-of-shit year where I left a job, started grad school, traveled through Ireland and Scotland and dealt with the shit that is life in general, was my mom’s cooking.
My mom is a fierce, tiny brown lady, with short hair and a Trini accent that becomes most perceptible when she’s speaking with close friends and family. She moved to Canada about 50 years ago from a small town near Sangre Grande in the northern part of Trinidad. When I’ve asked her why she chose Canada, she nonchalantly replies that it felt like it was the best option. She knew she wanted to leave Trinidad because she saw no real future for herself there. She had no interest in moving to the US (thank fuck!) and she wasn’t sold on England. So, here we are, in Toronto, Canada, in -20 weather freezing our balls off.
Two things that I can definitely say about my mom, first, she is my biggest supporter and fan and two, she. can. cook. She can conjure up doubles, rotis, curries and provision soup at break-neck speed. Her adeptness in the kitchen is both admirable and awe-inspiring. Everything she makes is delicious (except pelau with pigeon peas. Because pigeon peas taste like what I imagine pigeon shit to taste like). I have yet to see her use a recipe for anything she’s ever made (except cheesecake). Her homemade pepper sauce is the standard that I hold all hot sauce to, a balanced, flavourful sauce that is blazing hot, with the requisite fiery aftermath that will make your toilet cry. Her ability to make the most boring ingredients into something mouth wateringly delicious is a gift. If anyone wonders where I got my love for food and eating, it is without question, as a result of my mom’s cooking and incessant need to feed. If you go to her house, she will strongly encourage you to eat. You, in fact, can’t leave her house without eating something, unless you want to cause great offence. Consider yourself warned, if you are eating at my mom’s house make sure you wear your “fat” pants.
I have many food memories from my mom’s kitchen. Like stealing pieces of stewed chicken simmering on the stove. Or, arms dripping in juices from picking apart curried crab that was served over dumplings. Or, shoving hot, torn pieces of freshly cooked buss-up-shut (a flaky, layered roti, usually served with some type of curry or my personal fave, pumpkin) into my mouth, after being “clapped” and busted apart. When I was in my teens, I would sometimes sit on the counter and watch my mom move about the kitchen dropping aromatics into sizzling pots, rolling out rotis into the most perfect rounds or making currants rolls (a flaky pastry, sprinkled with currants and sugar and rolled up and baked until lightly brown). I found comfort and enjoyment in being there. She and I chatted and connected through these moments in the kitchen. Most of the time I would help her out, but sometimes I liked just sitting in the kitchen with her. What I understood food to be early on, was love, comfort, connection, and nourishment.
Being in grad school full-time has cost me my evenings, weekends, a social life, working out, and being carefree and unencumbered. I’ve had little time for anything, like going to my mom’s house and leisurely eating my way through the various Corelle serving dishes filled with different stews, meats, veggies and carbs. But, eating at her house during Christmas is an experience. I usually put in my request for my favourite thing, doubles beforehand. I wouldn’t want to be remiss of this treat. This year was no different. When I departed her house on Christmas night I had a large reusable grocery bag filled to the top with her delectable goods. Which I have been eating this entire week. Eating my mom’s food at the end of this year felt like the soul, energy and psychic repair that I needed after what has undoubtedly been a challenging and stressful year.
Now that this year is finally coming to a close I send a special shout-out to my mom, because she is the best. I hope that everyone finds their peace and gathers their energy and positivity to step forward into 2018.
Have a wonderful, safe, joyful, fun and truly magical end of year. I hope that 2018 makes you happily forget 2017.
Happy New Year, friends.