A Recipe for my Grandmother’s Mousse Au Chocolat
BY SARAH SALTIEL
To prepare, you must have in your head the history of our family,
generations of Jews who have moved across Europe
with a changing name and changing numbers—
this recipe does not come from them.
This recipe comes from the back of a chocolate bar wrapper,
but there must be some reason that I burn the chocolate every time
I try to prepare it,
I have not spent enough of my life in exodus
to make up for a childhood spent in Christian-washed absolute atheism.
To prepare, you must have spent your life in a French kitchen,
have lived in a womb percolating with onions, garlic, and wine,
the imitation of such, isolated and displaced across an ocean
will not suffice.
It requires three parts chocolate, one part egg whites
and before you beat it,
you must rest a head sodden and heavy,
saturated with the stories of a country revolting—
let the revolution turn the egg whites light and fluffy,
I do not know how to sit with multiple histories,
cannot even sit with my own,
I have descended, come from nothing,
come from lands of shifting borders, shifting people, I shift
in my seat
and French feels thick in my throat,
swirling around the back of my mouth near gnashing, needy teeth,
I want to exhale it in ways that will ask my grandmother why
we live in a family that continues to flee
despite the disappearance of the pursuers of the past—
I do not want to measure out my life in Old Testament sighs,
breathing out a past that I have never read,
why do we live centering our conversations around our meals,
unable to talk except with mouthfuls diluted by food,
and why do we then eat food without a tradition?
Why do we—
in French I ask my grandmother to show me the recipe for her mousse au chocolat
she pulls out a chocolate bar and starts reading from the back
SARAH SALTIEL is a transmedia artist primarily based in Chicago. She is currently working on editing a poetry manuscript and on a tabletop rpg based on the concepts of anxiety. Find more of her writing and art on her Facebook page.