A la Recherche du Taiglach Perdu

I wanted my mother. I went into the kitchen, and, though I hate to cook, I made a kugel. Are you in there Mom? I said. To myself, so to speak. No answer. Maybe because it was a modern day type kugel with modern day type vegetables, baby corn ears and designer zucchini.

I made a cholent: beans and potatoes. Garlic. It cooked for hours. The smell went to all ends of the apartment. I wasn’t surprised my mother wasn’t in there because I never knew her to make cholent. But surely the garlic . . . garlic had been her ally. How she would burn it! Like incense. Invoking perhaps her mother who surely, in her time, made cholent.

Then I had a hankering for taiglach. Maybe she would be in one of those honeyed jawbreaking balls of cooked flour. Or in a nut or even one of those candied cubes of dried fruit. But when I went to buy one of those mounds the bakery saleswoman said. Ten dollars. For a pile of cooked balls of flour sitting in a few nuts and fruit bits and a puddle of honey! I couldn’t make myself shell out the money.

I wandered around with this craving.

Mom I said to myself.

I went to the mirror. There she was, or at least her cheekbones. And there were some of the same age freckles she used to get.

Mom? I said.

There was no answer.

So I went out, bought some taiglach and ate them all.

Barbara Fleck-Paladino has taught early childhood classes and is the mother of three sons, aged thirty five, thirty four, and sixteen