My grandmother Mimi was known for her homemade shortbread. Unfortunately, I can’t remember ever tasting her shortbread. She was 70 years old when I was born and, naturally, her cooking aspirations declined with age. By the time I was old enough to help in the kitchen, she wasn’t doing much cooking. We made old-fashioned fudge together, I remember that. She always served me bacon and Welch’s grape fruit for breakfast because it was just what I wanted.
I pick up on little tidbits about Mimi’s cooking from my dad, like that she fried her grilled cheese sandwiches with some shredded cheese on the outside like I do. And last winter, the scent of my friend’s pot roast almost brought me to my knees—not because I love the smell of beef, but because it took me back in time to Mimi’s kitchen.
Mimi was born in 1915, the last of five children. My great grandmother’s family came from Scotland so maybe shortbread runs in the blood. Rumor has it that in high school, Mimi decided to add an “e” to the end of her middle name because she liked the extra flourish it provided. Mildred Kathryne looks nice, I think. She had two sons, seventeen years apart, with my grandfather. The love of her life. When I was little, their exceptional fondness for one another was as real and warm as Mimi’s soft cashmere sweaters.