I have started an occasional project to film peoples’ hands when they talk about food and cooking.  I’ve only posted one so far, but there are more to come.

Today I was chatting with a friend and suddenly noticed her hands– three fingers on each one and knobs of bones and some tales of failures by surgeons. She is 75, beautiful, a free spirit, a collector of wool who crochets mad Log Cabin patterns, a guitar player, a cook, a fermenter.

Her mother had had one finger on each hand. Her grandmother had had a job in the 1920’s in a watch factory, hand-painting numbers on watch faces with night-luminous Radium paint; to get a sharp nib, she’d form the paintbrush into a point in her mouth between dabs.

But here we are in the year 2014, my friend telling me about the supper she’d make when her three children were young, in Vancouver and then in a small town in mid-Wales to which they moved.

She had a big wok. She’d put in a little sesame oil mixed with water, and slowly steam layers from the bottom up– onions, celery, cabbage (the two had to touch), maybe carrots– which for her were hard to chop — and Chinese mushrooms from the amazing Chinatown in Vancouver when they lived there. All would be served over egg noodles. Once a week those children were allowed candy bars; the rest of the week they were in her motherly, nutritional control.

Nowadays my friend rejects doctors’ medicines and eats with extreme care, being mindful on her limited budget to waste nothing and ferment and thereby improve and preserve small bits of vegetables.

And she like me is a big fan of Water Kefir. I’m going to try her suggestion to Second Ferment with black-strap molasses and ginger root, and maybe, to make it a little cola-esque, also add lemon and cinnamon.

Time spent with her today felt extraordinary.

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