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Friday, March 09, 2007

the sweet escape

As the train rolls out of the city I breathe a little easier.

I dig my head into a fashion magazine and don't lift it up until the train stops in a town an hour away.

When the train comes to a halt, I stumble out with two heavy bags. One is filled with books, and one is filled with Mexican food, fine ingredients for tonight's feast.

I spot my proud Northern Irish grandfather standing in the distance, wearing a long jacket, a smart cap and sunglasses. My grandmother is in the station, her blonde hair glowing, lips lit up with lipstick, and her entire outfit co-ordinated in green. After embracing she picks up her cane and we walk to the car. We drive to Port Hope, the small, heritage town my grandparents live in.

I have come down to Port Hope to make a feast. My brother, living in a neighbouring town, has just turned 25. I haven't seen him in months and demanded we celebrate. What better way than a Mexican feast?

My grandparents are confused. "What are we making? Burritos? What is that?" They ask, the Northern Irish accent dancing through their voices. They've bought two loaves of French bread to go with the meal, and argue about whether or not I drink ice tea, and how my grandfather forgot to buy pop. I smile and tell them wine and water is all I need.

In their small kitchen I cut up avacado, make guacamole, blanch tomatoes, and make my first fresh salsa. I heat up Mexican re-fried beans, vegetarian burrito meat for my brother's girlfriend,and tortilla shells. I caramelize onions and fry orange and red peppers. My grandmother mixes a salad with fruit and nuts and poppyseed dressing. My grandfather moves slowly around the room, sets the table, and pours me a glass of red wine.

By the time my brother and his girlfriend arrive the feast is ready. Over the evening we laugh and eat until our stomachs hurt. My brother says his cake is too sweet and so I eat his icing, forever the little sister. The pack of candles only has 24, but looks like 25 lit up on the cake, and he wishes for world peace.

They leave before it gets late, and I scrub refried beans and meat off dirty pans while my grandmother watches the news. The small TV in the kitchen is always on, my grandparents absorbing news every moment they can, muttering and cursing different politics.

I slept soundly that night. More soundly than I have in months. My grandparents home is the only place I can sleep through the night without waking. It's something about the large size of the house, the safety, the antiques, the old throw pillows which tell me to relax.

The next day the sky was blue, and I walked through the town and the small shops, before coming home and making my grandmother lunch, then heading back to the train station.

It was a quick stay, but necessary. Family is more important than anything to me, and I'm learning how to express it. In the end, it probably did me more good than anyone.

Back in the city I went to work, and spent the night as bartender, shaking cocktails and pouring wine, a black apron tied around my waist.

At the end of the night I took a taxi to a hotel where my other, older brother was staying. He's in town for work and flies out this morning. We drank in the stylish lobby, spilled our hearts, and I left him with a hug and a wave.

It's been a sweet few days, a celebration of life and family.

nannie and poppie
the burrito fixins
25 candles
wishing for world peace
stylish grandparents
proud home
knock if you dare


Blogger Joy said...


"When you look at your life, the greatest happinesses are family happinesses." Dr. Joyce Brothers

5:10 PM  
Blogger Lacey said...

"water and wine that's all I need, " I second that m'lady!! Nice blog-- communing with family and food is bless-ed. And isn't fresh made slasa, that you've made, the absolute best!?!?!?

Have you read Anthony Bourdain's "A Cook's Tour?" I just finished it-- I think you might enjoy it as much a I did!

8:11 PM  
Blogger tatiana said...

What a spread! Your grandmother looks just like your mom. . . what a great way to spend the weekend!

I have been reading your blog for some time now, but I don't recall mention of the older brother - unless, he goes way back....

8:52 PM  
Blogger Luli said...

I think your fab! I was very close to my grandparents and can understand the feeling of joy that one has when your tucked up in bed and hear the familar sounds of their house around you.

1:31 AM  
Blogger Jess said...

This is quickly turn into quite the blog for the foodies out there.

I'm not complaining.

9:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you write some very interesting stuff. I came across this site whilst looking for something else. Your room mate Robyn used to work on our farm. Say Hi to her for us. farmer bryce

3:28 PM  
Blogger Emma said...

this is such an interesting and cool blog
you should write a book or something

3:52 PM  
Blogger Gillian Young said...

Lacey- I have read, and loved A Cook's Tour, as well as Kitchen Confidential! Anthony Bourdain is my celebrity crush.

Tatiana- I have two older brothers, but don't get to see either as much as I'd like to!

Luli-Thank you! There is something incredibly comforting about such familiarity.

Jess- As long as you're not complaining, because it's hard for me not to talk or write about food incesantly!

farmer bryce- thanks for stopping by, I'll take care of Robyn for you

Emma- Thank you...maybe some day when I have the patience!

8:01 PM  
Blogger Julia said...

Wonderful...and the family resemblance is amazing!

10:20 PM  
Blogger Omar Cruz said...

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1:22 PM  
Blogger Rach said...

Looks like a fabulous family time, your grand folks look absolute poppets. And the car too!

7:09 AM  
Blogger The Late Bloomer said...

What a wonderful celebration, what a loving, generous, beautiful sister and granddaughter you are... Bravo!

7:31 AM  

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