So one of the VERY few things I can offer my stepdaughter (because, ahem, I am not her mother) are some comfort dishes. When asked what her favorite dish is that I make, she said, well, I’m not sure, because you make so many different things. But this is the one thing I make that I am sure that she loves. First, she loves it simply because she loves red beans and rice. Second, perhaps, she loves it probably because she seldom gets it–I am the only one who makes it. It’s lengthy and involved and slow and consuming…and requires planning. And I like that I, at least, can offer her some slow and intensely loved food. Because the love is in the process.
Tonight, I’m cooking Emeril Lagasse’s Red Beans and Rice. It’s something–one of the few things–that has brought she and I together, primarily because I had never made it before her. And now it’s the “week home” dish that I try to make every time she returns. The smells in the kitchen tell me she’s on holiday, back from studying and academia and “the womb” (as I call it).
And my favorite ingredient? The bay leaves. They smell like home.