What comes to mind when you think of your mom? Chances are it is not a single image, but rather an amalgam of sensorial facets that conjure pictures, smells, and tastes. Is it an expression that you’ve seen on her face when she looks at you? The expression that acknowledges that you’re an adult, but behind it lies a thousand memories of you as a child. The expression that transmits both pride and the passage of time in one contemplative glance.
Or is your mind flooded with mental aromas when you think of your mom? Her perfume that lingers after a warm hug, or air filled with the smells of a favorite dish wafting from the kitchen? An aroma that says ‘I love you’ because she knows it’s the fare that will always bring a smile to your face. Perhaps it’s just the comforting essence of bread baking or cookies on the cooling rack…the smells that gently let you know that she is there.
Marcel Proust deftly put the notion of taste and memory to paper in his novel In Search of Lost Time. When biting into Madeleines, the protagonist realized that it bore, “…in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection.” That is, the taste of the confection overwhelmed his being with memories.
At The Solvang Bakery, memories of ‘Mom’ are intricately woven with the tastes and smells and actions of baking. For Melissa, Maili, and their brothers, the bakery was a second home during their childhood. Birthdays included an ingenious cake created by Mom Susan that struck just the right note for both child and age. Now the grandchildren are the beneficiaries of the same treat.
Not having grown up in a bakery family, thoughts of my mother are not so terribly different. They are inextricably tied to food. In our house, a cookie wasn’t a cookie if it wasn’t homemade. As a December birthday girl, I remember Mom helping my gal pals and me make our own candy canes (my creation suffered from a bad case of scoliosis). After school, my sisters and I would frequently be greeted with the rich aroma of freshly baked wholewheat bread. Mom had purchased a grinder and we would be dragged in our paneled station-wagon out to a dubious little shop to buy the bulk wheat. Now as an adult, my boys can’t wait for ‘Baba rolls’ when we trek up to Oregon for the holidays. Like a textbook grandma, Mom sneaks a couple of rolls to the boys before dinner, spoiling their appetites, but reveling in the joy that they bring to the boys’ faces.
Though I don’t expect to reach my mother’s level of competence in the baking arena, and I certainly know I won’t reach Susan’s, I do love to bake. And like all moms, I hope that some little part of what I do will be remembered affectionately by my children; whether it’s the act of baking, baking with the boys, or the final product itself. I recently leafed through a cookbook that our son’s second grade teacher had put together for the class. In it, each child was asked ‘your favorite thing about your mom.’ My son’s answer, “My favorite thing about my mom is she makes cookies. I like to help my mom make cookies because it is fun.” With two teenage boys now, these are magical words to read again.
The job of mother is a long protracted career; one with no annual reviews, and an 18 year product cycle. ven at product launch, you’re not entirely sure whether or not you’ve been successful. But those small moments, when a child somehow acknowledges those special efforts on your part, makes it all worthwhile.
As you celebrate Mother’s Day this year, we honor the time you’ve spent in the kitchen with or for your own children. And if you’re not a baker, we hope that you can reflect on some delicious moments devouring confections with your mother or your children. Drink in the those mental smells and tastes and feelings, and savor them today.
-Julie F. – Team Solvang Bakery
PS – We’d love to hear some of your great memories!