Thursday, August 09, 2007

Mixing the Empty Bowl, Full of Dreams

I wonder what he sees as he pistol-grips the whisk in the red plastic bowl. The big Jewish eyes, the big Moroccan eyes with the long eyelashes that span the Atlantic see more than I do as we cook together on the white tile floor. I wonder what the little girl, almost young enough to be unable to form words and ending her broken sentences with sweet sounds that should be words sees in the blue bowl she is banging with the wooden spoons. Does he see the beige batter, the crystals of brown sugar that we try to break apart with our fingers and unstuck them from the whisk. The hazelnut sized pieces are not sugar to him, they are tiny blue beetles that smile and watch Pixar films with him from dawn until dusk. The little girl with the soft black curls and delicate red mouth that opens wide for black grapes and yellow cherries blushed with red is stirring pink tulle and lace and Barbie heads in the bowl while her brother and I add the chocolate chips.

In France, I teach a little boy, whom I loathe, to make chocolate mousse in tiny glass cups from IKEA. I whip the egg whites into meringues after he cradles the yolks in his 5-year-old hands as if they were the fuzzy yellow chicks they would have become. We save the yolks for no reason and I battle the decision to tell him what they really are. He watches intently as the chocolate melts on the double boiler and his eyes widen as we softly fold the melted bliss into the stiff peaks of the meringue. I believe he knows what is happening and is present for the moment, but I also believe he is buttoning up his white lab coat and heating a blue chemical in a Bunsen burner, mixing with the green slime and waiting for the explosion of foam – like meringue. I know this because he brings me a bowl of rocks and chocolate syrup and plastic bath toys and jam in the morning to show me his “invention.” Then, he brings me a flower for lunch.

On the white American floors, we spill a few chocolate chips as we pour cup after cup of them into the cookie dough. I teach him how to snatch a little bit of it before spooning it onto the greased sheet pan. He grabs the spoon delicately looking up at me with a “like this?” look. I nod gently and smile as I heap the dough onto my own spoon, setting an example. His cookies turn out perfect – next time more egg for more chewyness – but they taste like innocence. They taste like the exact measurements that the recipe called for: two cups of imagination, melted hearts, and a tablespoon of reassurance. We sprinkle walnuts on half of the cookies and he presses each one into the small mounds like we squash the ants on the picnic table on the patio.

The little girl with the black curls and red mouth stirs her Barbie heads and makes sweet sounds that I wish were words.

1 comment:

Sean said...

Ok now I want cookies! Love your writing style! ~~ S