Wondering down MEMORYlane: biTTerswEEt memories

February 7, 2010

There are but a handful of moments in our lifetime that truly stay with you for the rest of your life. Amongst mine are those that relate to my grandparents, all bittersweet memories filled with glee, comfort and some ‘pleasant’ pot belly ache over my Opa’s stories and my Oma Christel’s ‘magic’ Christmas cake.

When I was little and both my dear grandparents still alive, we would spend every Christmas day down at their place. My favourite thing to do there was to crawl underneath the side-table in the living room, becoming completely invisible under the crochet lace tablecloth, neatly tucked away from the adult world. In my secret little hidey hole I’d do furtive kiddie things like playing detective and eaves dropping on the enemy’s adult conversation, singing self-composed little songs and for most of all, listen to the stories my Opa would tell about those days when he and my Oma were both young and bold and beautiful.

Every Christmas my grandpa would pull out this old story on how he and my Oma met during the war in December 1942 – she a young pretty nurse at medical school, he a proud assistant doctor that would become ‘weak at his knees’ by the mere sight of her. According to my Opa (this part of the story he would tell me in a whisper), he did not so much fell in love with my Oma’s blonde locks and good looks but more with her ‘magic’ Christmas cake, filled with ’the taste of love’ that led to the romance unfold and eventually develop into something more.

Maybe it was because this story somehow depicts one crucial chapter in my family’s history or really because of the magic and ’the taste of love’ in my Oma’s cake but I remember the incredible amount of love and safeness I felt each time upon hearing my grandparents’ tale (and still feel every time I think back to those days). And my little pot belly would comfortably ache in agreement, the result of eating too much of the warm cake’s custard filling too fast.

After my Oma passed away, her recipe book became a way for me to remember her, to keep her in my life. All in all my Oma was a damn fine lady. She was soft-spoken and sweet. And she loved to share good, home-made food. She came of her cooking age in an era where food was scarce yet said to be ‘the heart of everything,’ a mantra she would pass on throughout her recipes, all living proof of her love for cooking, baking and creating, and above all, the people she catered and cared for.

And just as I could never have imagined my life without having to get to know both my grandparents, I can no longer imagine my life without making that ‘magic’ cake each Christmas, recalling the story of how my Opa and Oma fell in love and remembering how their presence shaped me to become the person I am today. No, Christmas wouldn’t taste the same without that ‘magic’ cake and the memories of love attached to each slice.

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