“I don’t have anything to eat,” she’d start by saying, getting up slowly on her way to the fridge. “If I had known you were coming, I would have prepared something.”
Her tall body now bent in new places, my grandmother would then walk slowly to the fridge, opening its door. Looking inside intently as though peering into a new, unfamiliar reality, she would move some jars around, taking out others. Slowly, a feast would present itself on the little coffee table – homemade marinated mushrooms, pickled peppers, blintzes with cheese. Tea, always boiling hot and with a side of lemon.
And eventually, the cake – for there was always some – resplendent in its vision of cream and spongy layers, fruit or jam or a homemade confiture hiding amidst its folds. Our favourite was the peach swiss roll cake, in which the humble canned peach was turned into a blushing starlet, capturing the starlight all in its own right. It was beautiful and special and oh-so-quaint, like a vision from the ’80s making its way into modern life.
My sister and I would grab our forks and dig in, smearing our face with cream and peach chunks within seconds. Not caring about burning our lips on that boiling hot tea. Not caring about anything except that taste, the here and the now.