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The family tray

I look down at a lacquered oval tray sitting on my mother’s desk. The flowers in the design are slightly faded. It holds a decanter and a glass ready to be used if needed. Part of what I love about my mother’s home is that the objects she surrounds herself with have a life: there’s no question from the way she places them that they have a history and their value is indisputable.

She enters the room and notices my interest in the tray. She’s always ready to tell a story if it’s pertinent. She smiles and starts, “It belonged to my grandmother. Every day at 11 a.m., Alfred—the gardener, chauffeur, and valet de chambre (he also milked the cows)—would bring the tray to wherever she was with a glass of sherry and biscuits to give her energy.” I looked at my mother in amazement. The images came to life as she told the story. “When I look at the tray,” she continued, “it reminds me of Grandmère and Alfred. It was always this tray; there were other trays, but at 11 a.m. it was always this tray.”

The object sitting there had memories, a life that no longer existed yet it still comforted and told stories of the past if you knew enough to ask.


This post was created prior to our site upgrade. Comments at the time of our upgrade included:

Arlene Vaquer - August 24, 2018

What a beautiful memory. A reminder of my mother and my childhood is the first wooden rolling pin that she used to make all kinds of cookies, pastries, cakes. My mother was a wonderful baker. The rolling pin sits in a prominent place in my kitchen....along with a notebook with recipes in her handwriting. Thank you for sharing. —Arlene

Adeline Olmer - August 24, 2018

Thank you for sharing your memory! It brought your mother to life, how wonderful is that! I love looking at handwritten recipes. Each unique script and smudge that accompanies the recipe brings the person and the past back to life in such a unique way that I treasure them. I often think about the recipes I type into my computer and wonder what is being lost.


Le Kitchen Cookbook

A Workbook

Everything you need to know to be a good cook.

by Adeline M. Olmer

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Bon Appétit
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