Today, marks the 98th anniversary of the birth of Rosa Maude Boyette, my Mother. She passed on before reaching the age I am today, and before I, still young enough to call her Mommy, had the chance to store enough indelible memories to ease the heartache of her absence almost five decades later. Memories of this Kittitian mother of four mostly stem from stories told long ago, the faintest of recollections inspired by old photos and cups of sweetened hot milk flavored with a drop or two of vanilla, accompanied by shortbread sublime in it's simplicity and pure goodness.
Yes, it always comes down to food with some of people.
Count me in as a member of that particular tribe. You may know one of us, maybe you are one of us: who holds a mental menu for every occasion, whose waves of grief, elation, terror, curiosity, fury and boredom are no match for a well executed sole meunière, Mac and Cheese, or whatever makes ones tastebuds tingle at that particular moment.
To honor Rosa on this day as I earnestly step into the next phase of my own journey - unchartered as that may be - feels like a generous helping of delicious symmetry. [I may be misunderstanding the concept, but it sounds dope, so I’m rolling with it]. On the day of my mother’s birth, I present this revamped-and-still evolving blog, website, vlog….whatever: Toni’s Table.
Recollections of meals by Mommy include an absurd amount of pickiness on my part and perpetual work on her part (on top of two full time jobs), as she prepared food typical to the mid 1970's North American family - unless you lived around the corner for Chez Panisse in Berkely - which included canned vegetables, simply cooked meats, and rice. I did love the rice & gravy!
These meals did sustain me, mostly because she cooked and served meals for her family with uncompromising love. No need for memories there, I still feel it.
Early in my catering career, I worked a series of events where guests sought me out to compliment the food, almost unanimously ending with “y’know, I can really taste the love you put into this.” Clearly my mother, and the generations before her passed down a calling, a passion, a gift - label it as you wish - to nourish bodies and souls, and build connections at the table.
Thank you for joining me on this new adventure. I look forward to us getting to know each other virtually on these pages, or in person - maybe over a steaming cup of warm milk.