My favorite year in primary school in Hong Kong was primary 3. This is the grade my son has just entered in his elementary school in Los Angeles. He’s told me a few times that I have told him more than a once that it was my favourite year of school.
The reason its the most special year in all the years I went to school was because Mrs. Garner had an oven in our classroom. She would have cooking classes where we would bake cookies, make coconut kisses and truffles. I ate old fashioned English baked goods and desserts I never had before, and whipped butter and sugar together while adding vanilla extract. I looked forward to those classes. My family is Chinese, we didn’t bake.
If it wasn’t for Mrs. Garner, I would never have learned to do so. Then from baking, my interest branched out into making proper meals. Without her I would have missed out on something that has brought me so much joy in my life.
She made us a little cook book with blue paper cover and a line drawing of a pot with smoke coming of it. I know some of my classmates still have theirs, but they are always in some boxes somewhere. One day maybe I will get a copy again. I would like that so much.
After I wrote this post and posted in on facebook, an old elementary school classmate wrote to me and told me she had exchanged Christmas cards with Mrs. Garner all these years. So I look forward to telling her what an impression she made on me, and how she started a trajectory in life that had lead me to many meals, many friendships and this project.
Sometimes when I open the oven door to slide in the cookie sheet, I flash back to being 7 in my little apron, standing over the school desk, wooden spoon in my hand watching her slide the cookies into that magical oven—that I wanted so much to be allowed to use—with a kitchen cloth wrapped around her hand.
The reason I had originally written the post was to send my love for her out in the universe, as I liked the thought she would she pick up the vibrations. I don’t usually believe in the supernatural but just for once I had thought I would like to make an exception. And I suppose it worked, maybe not quite in the way I envisioned, but hopefully I would be in touch with her soon.