Tapioca

November 26, 2007 at 4:01 am Leave a comment

Tapioca

            I’m making tapioca. It’s the first time I’ve made it since Russ died. It was a magic dessert; not heavy in fats, soothing to a chemo and radiation fried throat and belly, something we could both share. Something, like tonight, I could stir and stir and become somewhat transported in time while waiting for the mixture to become frothy and thick and grow to the sides of the pan. Initially, we discovered tapioca at Costco; it was sweet and wonderful and the carton claimed that it was made by hands in little batches to be sold in the thousands daily across all the Costcos. Imagine that!  I decided I’d make it myself. Russ curled himself on the mat close to me, two dogs intertwined with him, and me stirring, stirring with the wooden spoon, reflecting and stopping the worries to simply stir. I would serve it up cold in my Winfield china with cinnamon on top, and it became a preferred treat for visitors. 

My mom used to make custard. She rarely cooked anything, so I always felt her custard was a kind of sacred event. She had special cups just for it, and she would line them up neatly in the refrigerator with nutmeg sprinkled on top. Even the neatness of those glass cups had an aura about them, as nothing else in the refrigerator was neat, or fresh, or perhaps even edible. The custard wasn’t made for any special events; sometimes I would come home from school, and there they were, lined up like sentries in the refrigerator, made in a little batch by hand, by my mother, who had an inspiration to stop chaos for a moment, to stir and stir, waiting for a creamy yellow mixture to thicken.

Stirring my figure 8s in the tapioca, I swirl in thoughts of the cool custard in those glasses with the surprise of nutmeg, me a little girl in awe of my mother the custard chef. I wonder if even then I sensed in the spoonfuls of cream the moments of peace the stirring brought to my mother so hungry for some reflection beyond the comforts of her cigarettes.  

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Entry filed under: Stories.

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