In com­plex fam­ily re­la­tion­ship, the gift of juicer un­ex­pect­edly helps peace flow

Austin American-Statesman - - FOOD & LIFE - AD­DIE BROYLES

I was per­fectly happy with my old juicer. A com­pact Juice­man Jr. that I bought for $12 at a thrift store was all I needed for the oc­ca­sional ap­ple gin­ger chard juice I’d make with ex­tra greens from the gar­den or to help get rid of that 15-pound bag of grape­fruit I found on sale.

But when my grand­mother re­cently purged her be­long­ings and moved to Austin, she gave me her old Cham­pion, a beast of a ma­chine that’s more like a jet en­gine than juicer.

If you’ve been read­ing this col­umn, this isn’t the grand­mother with the 19th-cen­tury bread knife who makes killer peach pies back in my small home­town in Mis­souri. This is my dad’s mom, to whom, quite frankly, I’ve never been that close be­cause their re­la­tion­ship has been so com­pli­cated. With lit­tle com­mu­ni­ca­tion through the ma­jor­ity of my life, I didn’t know much about her, and she didn’t know much about me, that is, un­til the past few years when she and my dad started to re­build their re­la­tion­ship.

Af­ter her hus­band died in April, she moved to Austin to be closer to my aunt. She brought with her the Cham­pion and the red, shag-lined cover she sewed for it that makes it look like a Scot­tish ter­rier stand­ing on the kitchen counter. Why? To give to me. (She

kept the match­ing toaster cover.)

If food can be a lan­guage of love, so can food gad­getry. Like most grand­moth­ers, Mimi speaks food (her mac­a­roni and cheese and meat­loaf are par­tic­u­larly elo­quent), but it’s eas­ier, phys­i­cally, on her now to give me some­thing that I’ll use again and again to feed my­self and my fam­ily.

The juicer, it seems, was her peace of­fer­ing. She might not see it that way, but I do. For the first time since I was 6, we’re liv­ing in the same state and are now both fi­nally will­ing to get to know each other as adults. Af­ter the long, rocky road that led our fam­ily to where we are, Mimi and I are es­sen­tially start­ing our re­la­tion­ship from scratch.

It’s only been a few weeks since she moved down here, but in that time, we’ve seen each other more than we did dur­ing my en­tire ado­les­cence. I’ll drop by her house on the way to an in­ter­view in her far North Austin neigh­bor­hood. My hus­band and son are no longer strangers whose names she con­fuses. I’ll call her, mid-juic­ing, to ask a ques­tion even if I don’t re­ally need the an­swer.

I ad­mit that the first time I tried to use my new juicer, I re­gret­ted giv­ing the old one away. My grand­mother’s heavy ma­chine is hard to move in and out of the kitchen, and its parts are harder to clean, but it grinds foods, in­clud­ing nuts, far bet­ter than my lit­tle thrift-store juicer could and even al­lows you to puree them for soups. I’m slowly ad­just­ing to this un­wieldy pres­ence in my kitchen that I’m be­gin­ning to re­al­ize I didn’t even know I needed.

Ad­die Broyles

Car­rots, cu­cum­bers and can­taloupe make up a fresh glass of nu­tri­ents. I’ve ex­panded my juic­ing hori­zons since get­ting a bet­ter juicer.

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