esther albano, who knew she even had a last name? to me, she's always been plain ol' esther, love of my life (curtis pouts), love of my tummy. she's our family cook, a pillar, a foundation, a corner stone in our home. she was all of 25 when she opted to become part of us and 53 years later she's still here cooking away. her recipes are the stuff of legends! my sister (the new generation of family chefs) made me drill dear esther last year for all the family recipes she has in her head. the woman doesn't even open a cookbook anymore! all the measurements are to taste and from memory. i can't even cook rice properly.
i have a few distinct moments seared into my head about esther, moments dug up from my youth. one is of that ever present pearl earring, the other is seeing her hands at work. rough and calloused from constant use, i remember wanting my hands to feel that way. they were so accomplished in my eyes. i admired their texture and sure movements.
she used to shoo me out of the kitchen, her domain and me the lil brat. the only child in a household of tall people. occassionally i was allowed to help. i could pick the rocks out of the grains of rice before it was cooked or grate the coconut using the fun grater system that was shaped like a stool. anything to keep me out of her hair i guess.
for my bday she would make all my favorite dishes -- a task that has since been relegated to my loving sister. and these days she's pulling the favs out of her arsenal and adding more to the list just coz i'm home again.
i love coming home and one of the compelling reasons is dear dear esther.