The Cookbook

It was 60 years old, that cookbook. You know, the one with the red checkered cover like a tablecloth. The pages were falling out of the binder. Some pages were greasy with use, others were untouched. I found what I wanted in the section on pancakes and waffles. Yes, exactly what I remembered – mama’s pancakes. I pulled a big bowl . . .

Please use the open space below to share your first 50 words on the topic “the cookbook.”

Author: Virginia DeBolt

Writer and teacher who writes blogs about web education, writing practice, and pop culture.

8 thoughts on “The Cookbook”

  1. Carmen was ecstatic at having bought the cookbook at a Miami bookstore. It was chock-full of Cuban recipes from the Julia Child of Cuban cooks, Nitza Villapol. Finding the book brought back memories of her childhood as she remembered Ms. Villapol”s daily cooking show on TV, which she would always watch after school. Now she could make and enjoy some of the platters that her mother used to make when she was alive.

  2. “The salmon was dry last time.” Greg yelled from the living room couch as Donna began to prepare dinner at 4:00, her usual time. She barely heard his complaint above the volume of the football game on tv.
    Donna sighed and wondered if her husband would ever like anything she cooked. After 10 years of marriage, she wondered why she still cared.
    She put the cookbook on the tile kitchen counter and opened it. Whenever she did, nothing else mattered. To her, it was like reading a novel set in exotic places.
    She thumbed through the pages and explored dishes with names like Gnocci alla Sorrentina and Les Plats Principeau and she was whisked away to another country, far from her small town life.

  3. She opened the old, worn ethnic cookbook in search of one of her favorite traditional recipes. The first thing she saw was her dear friend’s note written on it. They were the best of friends for over fifty years and neither time or distance had an impact on their wonderful relationship. The note was written in the nineteen sixties. Warm, salty tears flooded her eyes blurring her vision. How she missed her friend. It was physically painful. Although she’d lost two close old neighborhood friends this past year, the friend who’d given her the cookbook came to her mind more frequently. She simply could not get over her death because it was such a shocking unexpected event. No warning. No diagnosis. An emergency panicked ride to the ER followed by over one month of tubation and other methods to keep her dear friend’s body alive. Then a trip by Life Star to a larger hospital where her friend was finally left to die in peace. A horror story for over one month. A time of being unable to sleep. A time waiting for a phone call update. Lots of memories playing through my mind. The cookbook would always remind her of this when she read the flyleaf note. She treasured the cookbook now even more than she had in the past.

  4. For some reasons , unknown to mankind , it was called “Elegant Rasoi Sikhiya ” , roughly translating into Learn to cook “Elegant Recipes” . It never failed to crack us up . Elegant? Seriously?

    But , what it unwittingly did , was bring the family closer . We learnt some good ,( Moong dal dosas ) and some forgettable ( subzi kadhi with tamarind water , Eeks!!) recipes from that small , paperback sized book . Even the pages consisted of newspaper material . Those ones that remind one of cheap , B grade novels , sold by railway vendors.

    Yet , it taught me some difficult (and parliamentary ) Punjabi words. Allowing me to show off my newly learnt alphabets , to my fawning parents-in-law . Once I cooked some paneer with some carom seeds , a culinary crime , as per my carom- hating father-in-law. The blame was laid squarely at the cook-book’s doorstep , and the dish never mentioned again.

    When my Mom-in-law had to leave for foreign shores , she carried a copy with her , so impressed was she , with the book . Some where along the various movements of households , the book disappeared . But the memories remain.

  5. We searched for days for her recipe. “I’m sure this is the cookbook she used,” my sister said. But there was no recipe for fruitcake in its pages. Then we found the metal card file, and on the lid was written “fruitcake recipe inside.” We laughed! “How like Dad, that’s his writing!” We went through the box, card by card. No recipe. Finally a beat-up, falling-apart book turned up on the bottom shelf of the bookcase. There, on page 219, was a recipe that sounded faintly familiar. The book opened easily to that page, and the page itself was stained with many uses. “This has to be it,” we said. I still don’t know if this is THE recipe, but it’s the one we use every year now, and our fruitcakes, like hers, come out different every year, but always filled with the richness of memory, laughter, and of course, lots of fruit and brandy.

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