(by Judy Bolton-Fasman)
I tried to recreate my mother’s picadillo recipe from memory and scribbled it down for my friend Brenda. The results have always been a gruel-thin concoction for my mother and me. But Brenda is a gourmet cook, an alchemist whose magic transforms love into a fresh ingredient scrubbed free of cliché. I tell Brenda this is my mother’s picadillo recipe, but that is a misnomer. My mother never had the will to follow a recipe, let alone commit to writing it down.
Brenda adds portions and directions to make the recipe grand for me. She makes a meal from my mother’s culinary intentions gone awry. She burnishes my memories of the burnt dinners my mother threw into the sink—memories of tears and cracked Pyrex pans that were supposed to be indestructible. But in the here and now, Brenda’s reconstructed picadillo recipe is a course correction conveying: I love you and I love to feed you.