“When we cook things, we transform them. And any small acts of transformation are among the most human things we do… we feel, when we exert tiny bits of our human preference in the universe, more alive. “ Tamar Adler
There is a small café in a small oceanside town called Knysna, just at the southern edge of the African continent*. Wood benches worn smooth from use nestle under long, live edge slab tables. Small mirrors cut into the shape of sparrows dangle from tree branches suspended from the ceiling. And the bread… the bread… is served warm on hard pear boards with butter and homemade preserves.
When you find a place such as this, romantic notions of emigrating, learning an ancient trade from masters, giving your life to a place that is warm and welcoming, where every person who walks through the door smiles, unconsciously, eyes big with desire at all the possibilities... these sorts of things fill your head.
They filled mine.
But I didn’t stay beyond my planned route. Instead, I bought one of their signature rolling pins made from local hardwood, and a cookbook. Nothing I created at home could replicate the joy and serenity I experienced in the café, but it was enough to have the reminder. It happened. I was there. I once was a woman who traveled alone along the tip of a foreign continent, stumbling on a small bakery that felt like home…
In our kitchen, the rolling pin sits in an open crock next to three other rolling pins. Each with a different purpose. Each attached to a meaningful memory.
The cookbook, an odd sized rectangle, never quite fits in to any bookshelf. Like the memory itself, it stands alone in its unique way, refusing to pretend to be similar to any other.
For me, these objects are talismans, each time I use them, it's an invitation to remember a misplaced secret I've forgotten long ago.
In celebration of the myriad of paths available to us in our lifetime...
Always in motion,
*I had the deep fortune to visit the original café. Due to a fire, it’s since been renamed, rebuilt, and newly designed…