Born 84 Years Apart | French Fries

The look-alike should be a lot of fun. Deborah Stroud

My people have always tended toward the small talk speculation of who in the family takes after whom. New born babes get the hard line review: “She has her Daddy’s blue eyes. Look there though… her mother’s pug nose!” – “Wait… I think she favors her great uncle – strong eyebrows already!”

My husband Dalton does not participate. Those are things I don’t see, he’ll say.

When we were first engaged, D’s parents hosted a neighborhood gathering in the house that he came home to as a newborn. I was filled with the nosy wonder of a person archiving.

WHO are these people?

Are they prissy or relaxed; do they travel or are they home bodies; do they cling to the past or consider it yesterday’s news? About what subjects do they prefer to talk?

All the clues one could ever need are there before you in a house.

Are there books, plants and/or animals? To what degree are they sports obsessed? Are good sheets and lighting a priority? Do they sit or do they busy-around?

I excused myself from the cocktails and tales about little Daw Daw for a trip to the powder room and it was there in the inter sanctum of my mother-in-law to be’s bedroom that I saw it…a formal photograph of her Lincolnsque father, Dalton McBee Mounger. Or was it Dalton’s brother Harbour? They were identical!

Back at the party when I announced my discovery, there were shrugs all around. Old news it seemed. Still I was bewildered. Are these generational look-alike occurrences common? Resemblances to parents are one thing, but the exact same mug skipping generations are to me, an entirely different intergalactic matter.

Could there be a limited number of facial structures that creation keeps on the shelf for a rainy day? The creator must ponder. “It’s time to reenact that face, she’ll say, this personality will need some grace and so how about gifting him with temporary beauty?” Or perhaps, “Let’s see if she can pull if it off with this stern countenance?’”

Naturally a geneticist would have plenty to say about traits and probability, but I love to melt into the mystical beauty of coincidence. It’s as if a visitation from the past gives a leg up and a cautionary tale about impermanence.

That’s why when my granddaughter Margaret McBee Kellum was born, I checked her profile and said to myself – ‘she’s back’ – my Mother that is. Because there was a distinct similarity there and also later showing up in the face and body type and heaven forbid in the flirty sashay and the active imagination.

But still, distinct moods…where my mother was brooding; Margaret is ebullient.

So while creation may reuse physical components, the complexity of what make us real is clearly what bubbles inside. As my grandmother was fond of saying – ‘Beauty fades’ and ‘Beauty is as beauty does’ and on and on.

And though Margaret is blessed with an appealing face, I hope she will go with the gift of her inner zest. The strength of her Mimi, whom she never will know, will drift into her psyche by way of legend-like stories told to her by family. These are the things, I have come to believe, we need as we busy-around the earth.

Yes …. born 84 years apart. And I’ll be looking to confirm the soul reappearance of my Mother on the day Margaret folds one leg up under herself to sit in a comfy chair. Or maybe it’ll be the day she takes up the ukulele and begins by playing Jamaica Farewell.

Mimi’s French Fries

Mary Ann (Mimi) and Margaret both had/have a LUVRE for the french fry. I’ve done my best to maintain that hallmark. Every summer during the July Mounger Cousin Conference, we have a simple dinner consisting of one entree: french fries and one dessert: homemade ice cream.

Mimi was the original junk food junkie. If I cut my eyes, I can see her approving from afar, smiling faintly while taking a drag off her Viceroy.

Rain or shine we plug the economy-size Fry Daddy into the kitchen socket and run the cord through the window to the station of Grandmother’s heavy black folding table (purchased with hundreds of S & H Green stamps,I know I licked them myself) on the patio. Newspapers are spread to absorb the grease.

The children pop between water-sprinkler runs and bites of french fry.

2.2 pounds of russet potatoes
8 1/2 cups of cooking oil
1/2 teaspoon of table salt
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt crystals

Peel the potatoes and cut them into fine sticks.
Place the fries in a bowl of cold water and soak for 30 minutes. Rinse several times. Dry carefully with a clean, dry cloth. Heat the fryer to 150 C (302 F)
Lower handfuls of potatoes and fry for seven minutes or until they are golden brown.
Shake fries when they are lifted out with a strainer and leave to cool for 30 minutes.
Frying each batch will require less time, down to 3 minutes.
Salt fries generously with table salt and finish with a sea salt.

We use ketchup for dipping, of course, but I prefer aioli. Also, it’s fun to play the pusher with young palates.

6 cloves of garlic
2 egg yolks
1 heaped tablespoon of strong mustard
a dash of wine vinegar
3/4 cup sunflower oil
table salt
freshly ground pepper

Crush the garlic cloves. Put the egg yolks into a high-sided bowl and add the crushed garlic, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper
Make your mayonnaise using a wire whisk and adding the sunflower oil in a very slow trickle. Keep whisking constantly until the sauce has a good, stiff consistency.
Check the seasoning and adjust.
Serve well chilled.