My heart is soaring with thoughts of appreciation to all who have come on my tour this year 2012. For the first time in 15 years of living in our historic Charleston house, I have made a lasting change to our kitchen, the War Room where the real work is done. Today is the first day of the rest of my life: I have marble counters! Each person on my tours owns a square inch of marble in Charleston in my house! I am so appreciative, because each person on my tour has made it possible. And that’s a lot of tours!
Charleston kitchens historically had marble counters though not big kitchens. When Frances Smythe Edmonds was asked if the Historic Charleston Foundation she directed could have a kitchen tour, her response was, ” Why would anybody want to see inside a kitchen? The only thing I want to see in the kitchen is the cook!”
Varnetta, who is my help at home, helps me serve and often gets mistaken for the cook. She confesses she does not like to cook; she likes to clean, and for that, I am truly thankful. My husband calls her the core of our family’s sanity. Right now though he is challenged, for the upheaval in getting the house restored with workmen in and out and the dust that keeps settling and resettling is, as Romney infamously said, disconcerting. Varnetta is pure Gullah, for those who want to hear the real language of our locals. She does not talk much; she likes to get her work done. But she will tell you about her upbringing across the “Cuppa” River, the eldest of TEN; which sounds like tan, the proper way in Charleston. She “had to Towit de wood and de woda”. They didn’t have “Heit!” or “runnin woda.”
Thank God she is coming in the morning. I have a tour for a dozen at the white linened table, which I have set with Blue and White Canton Ware of the 1800’s, but she will tackle the dust!
Mincemeat tarts are the tea offering after a hearty soup served in a large tureen that has been in the family. Okra in moderation is in the soup. As I serve Varnetta will talk about how her daddy grew okra. “Owekra” is said better by her than anyone other Charlestonian, but she will confess she “nava did like owekra”, predisposing everyone to cling to their prejudice against this quintessential Southern vegetable so good for you and a natural thickener without the starch.
I was advised not to tell my readers about my marble counters by an marketiing/computer expert. But I cannot help myself; I have to thank you because i am truly thinking of you who come on my tour who made this change possible. Often those who work in the service industry are so used to serving and giving of themselves to make others happy that they do not spend on themselves. I look at it in awe. The image of a hole in the wall kitchen trying to serve a 5 star restaurant that lost diners sometimes catch a glimpse of behind the scenes is how I have felt about my kitchen. It still has the original cabinets, but now with a honey glow to the old pine we stripped and varnished.
My tour is at nine and it’s almost midnight. I hope to see you soon so that I can thank you in person and show you your square inch of my marble counters!