“Give it a taste, I need someone to check if it’s poisoned.” Chuckling I reached for the dish as my wife turned back to the kitchen. The stove glowed with heat as several pots and pans sizzled and hissed.
Our house was alive with cooking. Potatoes boiled in a heavy steal pot, and a turkey browns in the oven. All manner of pies, rolls, and assorted sides lay about, awaiting the master’s touch.
“I’m pretty sure it is poisoned, do you see the shade of red it is?” I looked down at the glass bowl. Vibrant red and purple hues stood out against my cupped hand.
“What is this again? Cranberry sauce?”
I can hear the click of my wife’s tongue from where I stood. She flipped her hair out of her face and shot me a glare. “Chutney! Cranberry Chutney. Come on, do I look like I don’t cook fancy?”
“I’m just teasing.” Grabbing an unwrapped cracker from around a cheese ball display I scooped up a bit of the chutney. A waft of cinnamon and ginger lingered in the air as I brought the cracker to my lips.
Pausing to inspect the differing shapes and gelatinous structure I asked. “What makes it a chutney?”
“Spices.” Was all I heard Megan say. My mouth closed around the cracker as the flavor of the chutney intensified. The very air around my body stops as my tongue all but explodes with flavor. My heart slows and quickens in the same moment as space around me changes. Before my eyes a scene from my childhood home swims before me. Mom pulling out a sheet of fresh gingerbread cookies. While my siblings and I frost clothing onto each one. Celtic Christmas music rings in my ears as I watch my dad stand on a step stool, hanging them around our tree.
Then I’m walking along a darkened city block, trees wrapped with a million pinpricks of light. My wife, then girlfriend looks at me, her smile making my body tingle. “What is it? Why are you acting so weird?”
There is a hint of surprise on her face as I step back from her, fumbling for something in my pocket. I kneel down on one knee while opening a small black case. Tears stream from her eyes.
I guess my mouth was still working around the chutney because my vision changes yet again. There I am, six year old me jumping up and down as I point to soot stain on the side of our fire place. “Look a boot print! A boot print! He’s real, he’s real!”
The feeling of being wrapped in a warm blanket surrounds me. And I hear my mother and father reading verses from the New Testament. The love is tangible between my family. And I watch as my brother reaches across me to tickle my sister’s exposed foot.
Tears formed in my eyes as I found myself in the present. A lingering taste of sweetened cranberry in my mouth.
“Honey? Honey? What do you think? Hey are you alright?” She turned from the stove to see me standing there, face covered in tears.
Her smile fades and she steps towards me. “Um. . . is everything okay?”
All I can do is nod. I have no control over my tongue, or my tears as they continue to fall.
“Does it really taste that bad?” She whispers as I place the chutney on the table.
I take her hands and pull her towards me. Without words I take another cracker and dip it into the ruby concoction. She opens her mouth and lets me place the dipped cracker into her mouth, then closes it slowly.
Her eyes disappear behind dark lashes as she suddenly stops. I can see the muscles in her jaw relax and a sigh escapes her. Tears form in her own eyes as she opens them and looks into mine.
“It . . . It tastes like Christmas.”