In my books, A Golden Leaf in Time Revised and its sequel Warm Intrigues, there is a special relationship between the father Elisha, a widower and his son, Trey. Elisha does all that he can to speak the truth when he sees Trey in pain. Trey depends on his father to listen and to steer him straight when he hits rocky roads in his relationships with women. They often end up in the kitchen when the conversations are heavy.
Trey, who later goes by his given name, Tyre, seems to have it together professionally, but has not mastered the affairs of the heart or his dealings with women. He is seen driving to his father’s house in both books. He visits his father when things are going well, but knows where to turn when things are not going so well. Here, we see Trey entering his father’s house when he has just discovered that he is about to be a father himself with his clinging girlfriend, Flora.
‘Elisha paused. He got up and picked up his coffee mug and his Bible. “Let’s go to the kitchen. This is kitchen talk.” Trey got up and followed his father into the kitchen. As his father fixed a fresh pot of coffee, he realized how much they actually looked alike.’
In Simple Abundance, Ms. Breathnach said, “When the miseries strike and you’re down in the dumps, food transformed by love and memory become therapy.” The father, a former cook from his Army days, finds peace and comfort in his kitchen and it is where he is most comfortable when he is thinking through problems.
Breathnach continues, “Comfort food is hearty. When hearts are heavy, they need gravitational and emotional equilibrium. With such sustenance we can keep on going and going, especially when we don’t want to take another step.
Elisha and his son have a very special bond. My cousin, Christine, spoke of how she liked their relationship in the books. In the African- American community, we are used to the bonds between mothers and sons. On Mother’s Day , many young people often recite Langston Hughes’ poem, “Mother to Son” in the churches. But we do not hear or see enough father and son relationships. The mere fact that Elisha, is available for his son is unique in itself. He is his son’s rock and anchor and lets him know that the door is always open.
In the sequel, Warm Intrigues, we again see Elisha in the kitchen.
‘Elisha let him in and went back into the kitchen where he had been chopping celery, bell peppers, and a red onion. He was in the middle of making one of his famous shrimp stir-fry combinations. He still had his wok of many years and had the fire underneath it very low. He was using olive oil for his cooking base and his many seasonings lined the counter.’
He had taught Tyre some of his cooking techniques, for what it was worth. He had cooked while in the service and liked to experiment and modify recipes he found online. As he cut up the broccoli, he paused and took a sidelong glance at Tyre.’
Breathnach adds’ “Different foods for different moods. She later quotes Laura Esquivel from Like Water for Chocolate. ‘You mix it with your love and emotions to create magic. Through cooking, you raise your spiritual level and balance yourself in a world that is materialistic. ‘Sarah Ban Breathnach closes by saying, “In a world that is frequently out of kilter, the kitchen is as mystical as a monastery.”
The kitchen serves as a setting for problem solving for these two characters. I was glad to see that I could tie this into my own books as I revisit Simple Abundance. In her book, Breathnach spends much of the month of July on the art of cooking and its healing effects.
Kitchens are unique places in our community and when there are some heavy-duty issues on the table, many find the kitchen as the place to put all of their cards on the table and try to cook up some solutions to life’s many unexpected twists and turns. It is often the place to smooth out the mind and flip things over to see the events from another angle that will allow those on the path to ‘tally forth.’
Lynn August 24, 2014