“Remember to use one green one and one red,” Bonnie said as she glanced at the peppers in the colander, “they taste different. If you don’t, it won’t be the same.” She gently rinsed them. Her blue eyes looked up, twinkled, and paused on mine. As if by habit from her work as a Long Island nurse, she spoke as though she wanted to remind me to take all of my meds, not to skip doses out of convenience. “You’ve got to have the right ingredients to make macaroni salad for Fire Island,” she cautioned, smiling.
Bonnie seemed healthy today. As she set up the cutting boards, her lively movements never revealed her body’s historic battles. To date, she had beaten cancers that afflicted her pancreas and liver.
Recipes are like love notes. I once cried from reading a book of recipes written by a mother to a son. At the time she wrote out the recipes for his favorite foods, she knew she was dying of cancer. There wasn’t time anymore for her to cook. The untimely tragedy of losing her was heightened by the persistence of her constant acts of love.
Though it had been years since her son and I had spent summers eating her famous macaroni salad, as I paged through the book I could simply picture her telling me why it was important to use one green and one red pepper, because they tasted different.