My mother did the lion’s share (read: 99.99%) of the cooking in my childhood home, but my father was celebrated in the family for making the following two signature dishes:
- Lipia kala, a milk-based cod stew from my grandfather’s home of Finland. (It tasted just like it sounds: unappetizing.)
- Cinnamon toast. On rare occasions, my father would have a hankering for cinnamon toast — usually around nine p.m., when “the kitchen was closed,” as my mother put it, and such extravagances felt illicit. He’d toast white bread (does white bread even exist anymore?) and douse it with cinnamon sugar he kept in a small tupperware for just such occasions and then cut it, hastily, on the diagonal. He’d usually make a big stack of four or five pieces of toast and we’d inhale them together, often on the floor by the fireplace in our sunroom.
It was rainy and cool the other morning — not cold, exactly, but damp in a way that settled into my bones. I’d recently come across James Blake’s arresting version of “Vincent,” a song my father loved when we were growing up. (I believe the original song was by Don McLean, but I could be wrong.) I listened to it three times in a row, like a weirdo, as I walked through 15 blocks of driving rain. (It was just far enough to be a nuisance, but taking the subway one stop felt wrong.) There’s something breathtakingly artful about the word choice in the lyrics: “the snowy linen land”? “weathered faces lined in pain”? And then the real kicker: “with eyes that know the darkness of my soul”?!?! Holy cow.
And I thought about my Dad, about the recent email he’d sent all of my siblings and siblings-in-law urging us to re-read The Great Gatsby as he had, just a week earlier, concluding the short email with: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” I thought about my father’s love of language (Fitzgerald is, in my opinion, the ultimate in artful writing and I often worry that he will be written off as a thin aesthete in years to come, underrated for a time to come). I thought about how moved my father can be by the mot juste — how he has repeated back to me on many occasions one of the captions of an Instagram I posted when minimagpie was just a few weeks old: “I can’t believe she’s mine.” He’ll say this to me and put his hand over his heart, as if to say: “Oh, my heart.” And I thought about how capable a writer he is himself. How often he says the right thing at the right time — as when he told me, without preamble: “Motherhood suits you.” Just casually, tucked into an otherwise unremarkable Saturday afternoon. How those words have never left me. How I sometimes look in the mirror and say those words to myself, turning my face to the left and to the right, analyzing my angles: “Motherhood suits you.” How sometimes I doubt myself in my new role as a mother and then, his voice arrives — “Motherhood suits you.” My own chorus. My own Mount Helicon, too.
So when I walked through the door, feet wet and heart aching, I knew exactly what I needed: cinnamon toast.
-Four slices white bread
-2 tablespoons sugar
-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Mix sugar and cinnamon in a small tupperware. Shake until thoroughly married. Toast bread lightly and slather generously with butter; there should still be little bits of butter visible when done if you follow my father’s who-cares-about-cholesterol strategy. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture on top. Eat hastily with a loved one.
But…some other things on my mind:
+Can’t put this down. I legitimately have to give myself a pep talk when mini falls asleep: “no, you don’t need to read your book right now. You need to wash the dishes, clean up the kitchen, and get that blog post done AND THEN YOU CAN READ IT.”
+These are supposed to be INCREDIBLE for little kids. Sort of like Legos!
+This has been sitting in my Amazon cart for the past two months. I really want it because any time I lift mini out of the bath, my shirt is spotted with water for the remainder of the evening, and the genius design of this product keeps you and the baby dry.
+This sweater is at the top of my lust list.
+Has anyone ordered anything from Parachute before? I’m intrigued by these pillows. I’ve used and loved these (affordable and fluffy and JUST READ THE REVIEWS!), but those Parachute beauties are actually down-filled…
+In love with this dress.
+If anyone is going on a warm-weather vacation, LOVE the high-end look of this swimsuit.
P.S. My favorite kitchen gear.
P.P.S. More on my amazing Dad.