Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I remember sorrel

I've been living on grilled cheese and tuna lately and obsessing over my art. The result is not much to add to this blogaroo in the way of insights and inspirations regarding all things culinary: I'm only entering my kitchen out of necessity. However, in the movie in my mind, I'm seeing the calendar pages flip away in a clich├ęd "time is passing" montage, so I'm here. Fortunately, I came up with a structure to at least get me writing.

My favourite book on writing remains Wild Mind by Natalie Goldberg. She applies her Buddhist philosophy to writing: as meditation means showing up to sit down, writing practice means showing up to the page and moving the pen. (There was a time when I put this book on reserve at the library, waited for my turn, read it, returned it and put my name on the reserve list again. This would have me re-reading Wild Mind every six weeks or so for over a year.) One of my favourite exercises is "I remember". It's very simple. Start a timed writing session (five to 10 minutes) with the words "I remember..." and let 'er rip. Whatever comes to mind, write it down. Be specific.

So, for lack of anything else to write, I'll do a five-minute "I remember":

I remember the taste of sorrel. My parents had a backyard vegetable garden at our house on Castle Knock Road. The plot was rectangular, located behind our garage and beside our cement paver patio. I remember being given the green silky leaves and told to eat them. Perhaps this was my father who gave them to me, but I can't recall. The leaves tasted sour, not repellent, but curious, and I couldn't decide if I liked them. My mother used the sorrel leaves for dinner that night. She cooked them gently in cream and served them with a pork cutlet. They had lost their bite and were a bit phlegmy, but the flavour was mellow, green and slightly sour. I recall the addition of sorrel to our meal as an event, an unusual occurrence, and surely I don't remember another time it was served. It was summer and hot, and we ate our dinner on the back patio accompanied by wasps that my father would smash with the pancake turner until he finally snapped it in two. Then, he used his bare hands, clapping the wasps between his palms so fast they would fall dead on the table.

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