You don’t know how to make fries. You weren’t there with me the day that I stood next to my grandmother in her kitchen. You weren’t there to notice how short she was, in her worn-out slippers and long-sleeve black dress. Her grey hair tied in a neat bun at the nape of her neck, secured with black bobby pins that were often found on the floor. You didn’t inhale deeply and realize that she smelled not of perfume but of garlic and onions.
Her wrinkly, veiny hands could peel potatoes faster than you thought possible using a small, sharp knife. You didn’t learn how long it takes to heat a litre of olive oil in an old stained pot and how to slice your peeled potatoes into uniform chunky sticks.
You weren’t her granddaughter who didn’t speak a word of Greek, so you didn’t stand next to her in silence while she dropped handfuls of potato into the pot. You didn’t hear the oil sizzle, burp, and spit. You didn’t realize, as I didn’t then either, that the most important part of frying potatoes is to reuse the same oil over and over again, four or five times at least, and to leave the potatoes alone while they cook.
You didn’t learn that you shouldn’t grab fries from the napkin-lined plate until they are sprinkled with salt and dried oregano. You will burn your tongue because you didn’t learn to wait until they cool down. I didn’t know those things until that day.
I should have said thank you, but I didn’t know how.
- Florence McCambridge has built her life around writing stuff down. She makes money as a copywriter and none at all as a writer of stories. But they balance out, so she's happy. She talks about bookish things on her site florence in print and on Twitter as @florencemcc.