“People from a planet without flowers would think that we must be mad with joy the whole time we see such things about us.” – Iris Murdoch
When I was I child I found the name “May” very feminine, and had been secretly wishing that I was baptized with it instead of the French second name that I now have. Then when I was in the early grades I hated my Spanish- French names even more not because they were a bit lengthy but because people had to read them twice to get the correct pronunciation. I just wished that I’d rather have something familiar and short, like April or… May.
Now, grown up, I see May as a wonderful month of Flores de Mayo – reminiscent of those days when me and my sister, carrying baskets of flowers, would walk from our house to the church in white dress, and white stockings, and, gulp!… white veil. We did that everyday for the whole month of May: praying and singing Spanish songs to the Virgin. And shower flowers afterwards.
I hardly see flowers in bloom around these days, specially in this gray city where I live- except of course in the market when I buy fish. On the other hand, there are also flowers from everywhere like flower shops, but wow, are they expensive! Why do we always have to pay for things beautiful? Aren’t they meant to be free? Once while arranging the set of my best friend's wedding, I forgot to splash on cologne. I picked a white gardenia on the road side and tucked it in my hair, and everyone was wondering where that sweet smell was coming from. Yes, beautiful things should be free indeed! Those were among the best flower memories I had in years.
Then one good thing I like about the cooking life is that it always draws me to the innately beautiful things of the world- the flavors, the tastes, and the flowers. Before an orange becomes fruit, flowers come first, bringing to mind the wonderful smell of papaya blossoms that wafted from the garden to my mother’s bedroom and hypnotized my sister to sleep. Then after the dark alley of slaughtered animals in the market, I exit to the strip of the flower sellers and life is new all over again. Once in the back market streets of a foreign country on a cold night, food was a little strange – the soup was composed entirely of fish eyes-and even if I hardly understood the language the people spoke, at least the roses and carnations in their flower stands were just perfect. I was happy enough.
It’s May. Take the perfect time to smell the flowers :)