I was maybe nine years old when I first realized that I had an almost reverent attitude when it comes to absolutely beautiful things. By that I mean I: a) don’t want to use/consume it at all (this happens all the time but most notably when it involves elegant notebooks with gilt edges, Gummi bears, lovely bars of soap or beautiful cakes); or b) I pass it on to someone brave enough to do just that so the burden of guilt does not fall on me. I have relaxed somewhat over the years though and I can now guiltlessly tear through beautifully-wrapped packages, open multiple bottles of perfume at one time, eat carved chocolate and spoon through food so prettily plated.
Maybe that is also why it took some time for me to take to cooking. A part of me always felt there was something wistful about consuming an already perfect thing, especially if I slaved over that perfect thing for hours. It is all about posterity perhaps, wanting to freeze that beautiful something just so the tangible joy attached to it can last longer. My thought balloon then always was “What happens when it is worn out and the company discontinues it?“ or “I will be so sad if it breaks” or “what a waste to use this now, I should just wait for a special occasion” or “this cake looks like it has real lace over it, it should not be eaten out of respect for the one who crafted it in all its delicate beauty.”
This quirk of mine I remembered in full force when I found myself in the kitchen earlier this week, at a very odd hour. Thank God for small mercies. Heaven must have heard my sigh for help last week because that particular day suddenly opened up before me, like sunshine brightening my crowded mind. On a whim I had decided to make, of all things, crepes.
Armed with a recipe and a crepe pan, both of which were so generously given to me by a real and seasoned baker who every Christmas spawns from her kitchen at least a few hundred pieces of her best-selling cakes (Pistachio Sans Rival and Chocolate Concorde among them; call Delize at 721-7022) I knew I was in for a happy time.
So there I was, cocooned in a hopeful place, making these soft edible blankets guided by a professional recipe and naturally hoping for professional results. I carefully measured the ingredients and made sure the batter was the right consistency, chilled and without lumps. I dropped it by the cupful in the middle of the hot pan, and with a graceful swag of the wrist to and fro, up and down, I made sure to coat the whole surface as the recipe dictated so that a perfect circle was formed. It is sort of like a dance that way.
The very first one I made was not bad but it was far from perfect, way too thick as delicious crepes go. But I soon got the hang of it after which I pushed myself to be brave and start the next challenge —- flipping them in happy abandon. This may be no big deal for most others but it was certainly ambitious of me, a kitchen neophyte, and some of the crepes came tumbling down looking like tired dreams and dance steps gone wrong. Every once in a while one would decide to flip mightily only to fall yet again in a sad heap on the pan, looking lost but hopeful, while others were redeemable with an extra but quicker toss up in the air. The more I failed the harder I tried and the more liberating it got. All of a sudden, this big window of opportunity opened, allowing me to unapologetically massacre as many crepes as fate dictated. They all tasted good, given the perfect recipe, but not all looked it, a sight that prompted my daughter to remark “You’re a crepe criminal, Mom.” I was okay with that.
That was how I spent the afternoon, making two big batches of crepes until we were so stuffed we thought we could eat no more. That was how I relaxed and recharged, as the husband and our daughter and my brothers looked over my shoulder, showing unconditional love and support by eating every crepe that I slipped from pan to plate, whether they looked mangled or not.
And that night, long after the last crepe had been gulped down, the daughter showered me with butterfly kisses on my cheeks while I was busy reading a book on my bed. That, plus unprompted “I love you” from her, was a potent combination that turned my heart into something a little more than good, making me thankful for the resident blessing of pretty things that do not necessarily have to be frozen in time for their beauty to mean something.
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