bread recipe he had found online. Alex is the kind of person who dives deep into a subject; he has mastered this recipe because he has studied the Talmudic scholarship surrounding the experience of No-Knead Bread. However, one thing he had not read up on was the fact that the plastic knob of Le Creuset's pot degrades at 450 degrees, so the fragrance of our first loaf was somewhat polluted by the toxic stench of melting plastic. Woops! Le Creuset's service department responded speedily with a replacement. Lovely. However, it was a replacement of the same sort of plastic, which would only have the same problem. NOT lovely. Since when did Le Creuset pots become so...limited and finicky?
We rolled up our sleeves, and the difference in Alex and my temperament was immediately evident. I took one look at the recipe, and said, let's add fennel seeds and golden raisins. He said, no, we must proceed methodically, and learn the basics first, and then we can make alterations. But he let me add some chopped rosemary in the third loaf...
One of the things I have had to learn, in my intertidal years, is how to be a mother to grown sons, who really do not want to be thought of as my babies any longer. They hate when I use their baby nicknames, for example, and protest vigorously, which makes me feel as if I have lost one of life's big privileges. This reminds me of the day my father visited me at Newsweek, where I had just been promoted to become the first woman in a management position. A big crack in the glass ceiling. I took my father in to meet my boss--a man as tall as a tree. "How's my chickpea doing?" my father said. I almost fainted in mortification. "She's fine," said my boss, about as amiable and gracious a person as could be. "She's our chickpea, too." This is an example of how not to treat your child as an adult, but I can now see how it must have been irresistible.
Anyway, one of the pleasures of watching your children become adults is seeing what sticks, of all the things you have thrown at them over the years. What do they return to? What do they enjoy? What do they do of their own volition? And the biggest joy of all is when you suddenly realize that you have given them room to simply become themselves. My methodical son has learned to enjoy an unexpected sprig of rosemary, even when it isn't in the recipe. And I've learned the value of beginning at the beginning--which is what both sons have taught me since the day they appeared.