Visiting Tennessee

>I recently flew to Chattanooga, stopping in Atlanta to change planes and wander about Concourse B for forty minutes. The first thing you notice when you change planes in Atlanta–aside from the constant stream of families, as there are no families flying out of LaGuardia on a Monday morning–is the number of men and women in military uniform. It’s easy to forget that we are still at war. Either because of this, or in spite of this, I ate ice cream for lunch.

My father picked me up from the airport and we drove directly to the Waffle House, where I ate cheese-n-eggs, with hash browns scattered well and raisin toast. The raisin toast at Waffle House always comes with apple butter, and I’m glad to know that some things never change.
As we ate, I thought about the time my dad was in NYC for some kind of work, and I met him for dinner after my drawing class at SVA. This was maybe eleven years ago. We sat at the Lyric Diner on Third Avenue and I ate two grilled ham and cheese sandwiches. He didn’t eat anything, for whatever reason. I felt at the time that I was starting to be a different person. At the Waffle House two weeks ago, I felt that I had returned to the person I was before that changing–the kind of tossed-at-sea uncertainty that the 20s can bring. So, maybe it’s not a changing, just a day-trip. My dad paid the check and I felt full of greasy food and I was glad to see that some things never change.
We ate through the week, my mom’s cooking, my own cooking, the cooking at a downtown restaurant, where my mother was introduced to the St. Germain cocktail, and later tried to order it at a comedy club bar where they didn’t know what that was.
We drove out to see my friend Mary Beth’s new house, which she basically built herself, on about 7 acres of land she purchased from her alpaca/llama-farming neighbors/employers. Her directions included the line “Turn left at the antique mall and go about 10 miles.” It seemed to take forever to get there. But her house is a beautiful monument to self-sufficiency and a healthy reminder that sometimes the old way of doing things is the best way.
Her pantry was filled with canned goods–tomatoes, jams, pickles, corn–which sparked in me the desire to can everything this summer. And put up a big shelf of jars in the kitchen. Mostly that desire has faded. I tried to buy a book about how to do it well at the Strand, but they didn’t have what I wanted. Friends with extra books about canning, and some with canning equipment, have promised to give them to me: “Really, you can have them.” Their lack of faith doesn’t bode well for my own future in canning. Look for an update long about August.
My friend June met me at The Castello Plan for dinner a few days after I got back. There were pea shoots on the special, and she and I shot looks at each other when the waiter mentioned this. It’s still too cold for pea shoots, we said. When will spring come? Morels and ramps and green garlic and asparagus and tristar strawberries. I need all of you.

One Comment on “Visiting Tennessee”

  1. your mom says:

    >The first time I made jelly I used some beautiful plums that a friend gave me from her trees. I was appalled at the amount of sugar in the recipe–7 cups!–and thought I would make a healthier jelly by reducing the sugar to 4 cups. The batch cooked up easily enough, and my jars were sterilized, and I had dutifully melted wax to pour on the top. The jewel-toned reddish purple jelly made me proud to be a "homemaker." That is, until I took the first bite of a loaded jelly-biscuit. My naivete had left me with jelly sour enough to make me wince and pucker with shame. I emptied all 24 jars in the garbage and promised myself never to make jelly again. I kept that promise until the summer I made blueberry jam EXACTLY as the recipe said. It was wonderful. Do you remember it?


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