(by Stephanie Russ)
While flipping pancakes with a friend, one landed on the ceiling, and it did not escape my mother’s eye. “What?” we said in mock surprise. “No idea how that got there.” But Mum stayed calm and just made new ones. I’ve probably taken on this calm. It’s one way I resemble my mother. Back then, I never wanted to be compared to her. It was a tense relationship. We had a different style and life vision. I now understand that I wanted my parents to have a happy and healthy life but saw the opposite (heavy smoking, few sports). My attitude was: I will never be like my parents. They had typical German virtues: Be punctual, follow the rules, be precise and disciplined, write good notes, listen to others, and behave yourself. There was little talking about the past. Difficult emotions were kept in silence, waiting in the corner. For a more dreamy and creative personality like mine, it caused some misunderstanding, and I wasn't easy as a teenager. And then sometimes there is a change. I remember this day. My mother was in the kitchen, and I went to her. We just looked at each other, and I said, “I am sorry!” She was confused and asked what I was talking about. “Because,” I said, “I’ve been saying such stupid and hurtful things to you in the past without reason.” At that moment, she started laughing and crying at the same time. I will always remember that. My mother often sat in the kitchen at a little table and did crossword puzzles. I could see how my best friends spent time in the kitchen with their mothers, talking about dating and other matters. It made something clear in my own family: that I should pay more attention to those little but important moments. My mother collected billions of recipes out of magazines—we joked that she could never cook them all in a lifetime. She was a typical housewife of that time; cooking and cleaning were more an accepted part of maternal responsibility. I once asked her about the time when she worked outside the home and if she wanted to work again, but it seemed like she was pleased with her traditional role. It was something that I didn't understand. I wanted to try everything and do everything. A peaceful moment in our family was the cooking and preparing the table together. Cooking with my mother was something I always liked to do, and would have liked to do even more. Now I pay more attention to a healthy and fresh diet. But I love to remember when dinner meant fettuccine with sauce, salmon with a thick cream sauce, or schnitzel with a creamy mushroom sauce. A lot of sauce. An extra dollop of sauce meant an extra portion of love, whether for a family party during the holidays or simply after a long school week. Mum would ask, “Another refill?“ And the answer was always, “Yes, but please with sauce!“ It put everyone in a good mood. My father, a typical public official, no longer talked about the news; my six-years-older brother no longer found his annoying little sister that bad. My mother’s cooking brought us all together. But the time that we should have enjoyed together was too short. Now that my mother has not been walking on earth for some time, I keep thinking back to these moments—the warmth, the gathering, the peace. I think of these moments especially in such difficult times like now, when we cannot be close to our loved ones to protect them. Recently I wondered if I would ever be able to get my mother’s mushroom sauce right. I grabbed my saucepan and started cooking—so far, unfortunately, without the perfect result. Mum’s is still the best.
During this crisis, even when the little ones are home, and parents are working as their entertainers, teachers, confidantes, cleaning staff, and “person to blame for everything,” we can enjoy the time together, perhaps cooking, and smiling through the chaos. They’ll never forget a smile that brings confidence, trust, harmony, and love during a storm to the world, thereby transforming the world into a better place, for at least one person. --- Stephanie Russ is an actress in Berlin, Germany. She can be found at IMDb, Instagram, and Vimeo.
Mushroom Sauce á la Rosi 1 – 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 3 – 4 oz. butter 1/2 lb. mushrooms, cleaned and sliced 8 oz. vegetable broth 16 oz. cream salt and pepper to taste all-purpose or almond flour chopped parsley In a large saucepan over medium-law heat, melt 1 T. butter and sauté the garlic. Add remaining butter to the pan with the mushrooms, and cook for 5 – 10 minutes. Add vegetable broth and cream, stirring constantly for 5 – 10 minutes more. Stir in salt, pepper, and enough flour to thicken the sauce to desired consistency. Serve over meat, noodles, or rice, and garnish with parsley.