When I think of rituals, my brain goes right back to college. I, my friends, was a sorority girl. And sororities are steeped in rituals. Unfortunately, they’re all secret. As is the handshake. So we can’t go there. Too bad too, because those rituals are all kinds of awesome.
Because if I told you, you know, I wouldn’t be able to…well, I can’t tell you.
But there is a long-ago ritual that comes to mind. And it’s not a secret. It’s the one I’m sure sealed my love of food and cooking and all things kitchen and brisket-related.
I was my grandmother’s official taster. Yes! You read that right. And I do not want to hear from my brother or my cousins that they, too, were her tasters, because they’ll be lying. I was the oldest (which is no longer the case, now they are all older than me), and the only girl (still true) and I was the one who stood next to my grandmother when the brisket was done, and sliced. I was given the end piece right off the knife. Very carefully, I assure you. I nodded my head in approval every time, as if saying, “Yes, this is fit to feed the family.” I think I was the brisket taster until my grandmother stopped making brisket. I was probably in my twenties or thirties. Perhaps had she made brisket for my kids, they would have become the tasters. It probably would have been my daughter, as I think taster-dom is passed down through the matriarchal lines. It must be, because inevitably, after dinner, we’d head into my grandmother’s bedroom and go through her jewelry drawer. The jewelry drawer that was meticulously arranged with pins, chains, pendants, earrings, necklaces, and bracelets, all in their own little sections of the inserts of cleaned out candy boxes. Genius, I know. That’s where I was the tester. You know, testing all the jewelry out, making sure it was wearable, always putting it back in the right compartment.
I’m no longer a taster or a tester. I’m no longer a sorority girl. These rituals are no longer part of my life, but they are part of me.
Maybe that’s the same thing.
What rituals from the past have helped to shape who you are today?