“Before my grandmother passed away this fall, before she stopped painting flowers and taking photographs, before her final trip to the ballet, before she made her last batch of sweet, sticky schnecken, before she could no longer eat anything but fudgesicles, before she was forced to sleep for much of the day and could no longer entertain visitors, she took me into the sunroom of her house in Kansas City early one morning.
“‘Go into the kitchen cupboard, the one below the China,’ she said, ‘Get the cookbooks. We’ll sort through them, you’ll choose the ones you want.’ Her voice was fuzzed by the oxygen tube that was strapped to her nose.…
“The cupboard contained a chaos of cookbooks, lined, stacked, piled, crammed into corners. Her favorites stood in the front row—a 1932 edition of On Food and Cooking from which she often prepared a gelatinous Thousand Island Crab Ring Mold, multiple volumes of The Barefoot Contessa, a Spanish tapas book written by one of her friends, The Silver Palate Cookbook. Crammed behind these, other volumes had been gathering dust since before I was born. A Cuisinart cookbook published in the 1980s was virtually untouched. A midcentury Guide to Napkin Folding—good as new.”
Image: via Will Levitt.