Does love have a taste? How about a smell?
For me, I think it might taste like my grandmother's fried chicken or the chocolate cake my mom made for my birthday. Maybe it smells like the cinnamon toast we had with our oatmeal before school or the cool, damp air of the basement where we had our Christmas gathering every year. Or maybe it smells the sweet baby smell that Judah has when I'm holding him just before I put him to bed at night.
For my mom, I think it tastes like coconut cake. Her mom used to make coconut cake every Christmas. I realize now that I didn't fully appreciate it at the time, mostly because I am not so much a coconut-loving girl. (See reference to chocolate cake, above.) She must have cooked for several weeks before we came, making chicken salad and pimento cheese and her beautiful coconut cake. It was pristine - flaked white coconut pressed around the outside, white coconut filling in between the layers. She stored it covered in saran wrap in the freezer. After dinner, my mom, dad, aunts and uncles would take turns pulling it out of the freezer and slicing off pieces. I never realized that she often made the cake completely from scratch. She'd start with an actual coconut, peel it, grate it and then use the water and flaked coconut to make the cake.
We haven't gotten to have her cake in a long, long time. Even though she only died a few years ago, she stopped making the cake a long time before that. I remember visiting her once in Florida and being disturbed at how she would ask the same question, over and over. She could still make the cake, though. I guess she stopped making it around the same time she started wandering outside, wearing her winter coat in the hot July sun. Long before she got quiet, forgetting how to talk, and lost her way to us.
Christmas this year had my mom reminiscing about that cake. I could tell she especially missed her mom this year. Missed the taste of her love. Her birthday is today, and I wanted to do just a little something to give her a nibble of what has been missing. So I made a coconut cake. Unfortunately, I don't have her recipe as I didn't plan ahead enough to track it down. But I found this one from Alton Brown, because mom had mentioned watching the episode and felt it was very similar to the one she ate all those years. She and my dad came down today for a little birthday dinner and grand baby time. The cake was good enough to convince even this chocoholic that she would be making this cake again.
What does love taste like? Sometimes, it tastes like coconut cake.