[dropcap]Y[/dropcap]esterday, I made brownies for Memorial Day lunch. Not just any brownies, Mrs. Jean Scharnitzky’s brownies. With buttermilk.
I got the recipe out of the Brewton Civic League Cookbook. I stole this hometown book from Jamie years ago. It’s one of my most prized possessions.
I’ve used this little gem to prepare many a small-town-Alabama feast. Some of my greatest hits have included: Paula’s Pickled Shrimp, Triple Orange Ambrosia, Coca-Cola Salad, Squirrel D’ete, Red Beans and Rabbit, and Miss Genie’s Cracka-lackin’ Cheese Biscuits.
You see, I don’t know who these Brewton women are, but their recipes have been passed down to me in these pages. I’m a better person for it. Whenever I use this faded book, I think about the sweet ladies in simple bib aprons, with flour dusted hands, and beehive hairdos. I think about how they made biscuits, by memory. The way they fried chicken, by feel. How they whipped up batches of Mrs. Ruby Hagood’s tea cakes, when unexpected company showed up.
And even though I’m not kin to some lady named Pauline – I don’t even know her – when I eat her fudge pie, I might as well be her baby boy.
Call me sentimental, but cooking is affectionate. I can’t think of a better way to send love across generations than with food.