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Home-cooked Meal

My apologies for not posting yesterday, oh you who are at the edge of your seats as I write about metadata and search. It was my night to help bring dinner to a homeless shelter that rotates around Palo Alto, and part of that experience includes hanging out with the folks as they dine; it was hard to tear away as we all stood around the church kitchen, sharing stories. I brought a moist, frosting-slathered sour cream chocolate cake (the cake from a 1960’s edition of the New York Times cookbook, the frosting from the back of the Hershey’s cocoa tin) and two pecan pies that if I do say so myself were the epitome of pie-ness, with toothache-sweet pecan filling sparkling inside a perfectly browned crust (a recipe from Joy of Cooking, using brown sugar and white corn syrup, as one diner accurately judged; my one shortcut was Pillsbury roll-out pie crusts, which are better than any pie crust I’ve attempted).

A tall young man digging into both pie and cake commented, “This is really home-made.” He took a sip of milk and said, “My grandma made pie like this. Hers used molasses. It came out dark, really dark. She would spend two days making those pies. They were so rich I could only eat a slice like this,” and he moved two index fingers together, just an inch apart. For a moment, everyone chewed in silence, nodding.

As Sandy and I left the church, we passed through a church room where some homeless people were already asleep, lying under blankets and sleeping bags on small mattresses, their backpacks and tote bags near their heads for safekeeping. I know some of them dreamed they were children again, standing in warm kitchens.

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