Authors: Erica Bauermeister
Tags: #Contemporary Fiction, #Cooking
“Something tells me you wouldn’t get away with that at Isabelle’s house,” commented Claire.
“Lillian,” Antonia called down the table, “I wanted to tell you—I have two new students for your next session. They just got married.”
“And I bet they just happen to have a beautiful new kitchen to cook in,” Helen remarked. Antonia nodded, blushing.
“Here’s to kitchens,” Carl proclaimed.
“And here’s to what comes out of them,” Antonia added, raising her glass to Lillian.
The dinner plates were empty, the last bites taken with sighs of satisfaction. Chairs were pushed back, and the conversations around the table meandered like tributaries of a great green river. Lillian stood at one end of the table and raised her glass, clinking it gently with her knife.
“I have an announcement to make,” she said. The table quieted. “I’m going to have a new apprentice in my kitchen. I hope you all will come often and taste her cooking.” Lillian reached into the corner of the room behind her and pulled out a set of chef’s whites, which she placed in front of Chloe, who looked up, pride spilling across her face, while the class applauded.
“Oh, the sweet dear,” Isabelle murmured to Tom, “I think she is going to cry.”
“Now then, who is ready for dessert?” Antonia asked. “Ian has made something really special.”
The last dish was washed; the kitchen floor was shining. Claire and James, who had offered to help with the last of the cleaning up, had put their aprons in the laundry basket and were walking down the path, Claire leaning in sleepily toward her husband’s shoulder. Lillian stood by the wooden prep counter. The kitchen smelled of water and soap, the air vibrating with companionship and an undercurrent of desire as subtle as saffron, dusty-sweet as tarragon.
It had been a good class, Lillian thought, and spring was already in the trees. A new class would start soon. Lillian always felt a bit of sadness at this point, expected it even. This time, however, Lillian felt more regret than usual. She had always loved being the teacher, the one who knew the spices that would wake up a memory, heal a heart. She enjoyed holding the knowledge in her mind like a secret, figuring out which student needed which gift. But this class was different. These students gave to each other, reaching out among themselves with such grace. She saw how connected their lives had become and would remain. Where did a teacher fit in the picture, she wondered, when there was no longer a class? Lillian touched the tips of the roses softly and put them on the deep window shelf.
The teacher fit in the kitchen, of course. Shaking her head at herself, Lillian walked to the back door.
Tom was standing at the bottom of the stairs, his collar pulled up against the cool of the evening air. In a garden full of cherry trees, she smelled apples.
“It’s still early yet,” Tom said, his voice reaching across the space toward her. “Would you like to take a walk? I have a story I’d like to tell you.”
Lillian gazed back into the room behind her, its counters clean, the walk-in ready for the Tuesday deliveries. She listened to the quiet hum of the refrigerator for a moment, the whispers of the flowers in the vase. Then she turned off the light, and left the kitchen.
This book was a gift, given to me by many people. Marjorie Osterhout’s generosity of time and spirit touched every page. Gloria Attoun asked perfect questions and created beautiful illustrations. Rebecca Sullivan proved, yet again, her skill and patience as a friend, reader, and photographer. Sydney and David Oliver gave me Paris in December. The Blue Ribbon Cooking School, Julie Logue-Riordon, Jeff McLean and Dian Campbell, Lisa Cooke and Mark Rechtin, Val and Simon Griffith, were sources of delightful culinary inspiration. Mark Craemer, Nina Meierding, Michael Bauermeister, Deedee Rechtin, Peggy Sturdivant, and Holly Smith read with open hearts and clear minds. MJ Rose opened doors for someone she barely knew. Josh Getzler was my fierce advocate; Amy Berkower, an extraordinary agent; and Rachel Kahan, an insightful and ever supportive editor. And always there are Caitlin, Rylan, and Ben—I love you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Erica Bauermeister received a B.A. from Occidental College and a Ph.D. in literature from the University of Washington. She is the coauthor of
500 Great Books by Women: A Reader’s Guide
Let’s Hear It for the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14
. She lives in Seattle with her husband and their two children.
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