There’s a memory tucked away safely in the crevice of my mind, through twists and turns of the years gone by, unscathed by the notorious forgetfulness that usually defines me, this memory stays, is strong, is protected.
It’s of my mother, of course, and warmth and sweetness – the nourishment of food given to a daughter by her mother. It can be sunny out or cloudy, these parts of the memory don’t matter, for I know in the bubble of this moment that I am all right. Because my mother makes it so. She smells sweet and sends a small smile in my direction. My eyes are big and blue and slightly teary-eyed. I’ve had a rough day; the days are rough at age six when your best friend finds a new best friend, when you scrape your knee, when your father has gone away on another business trip.
Mom is at the stovetop and she stirs something and I know life can get better. It is sweet and salty and creamy, enveloping me in a hug of cozy buttermilk. I see kernels of corn bubbling gently in the mix and I smile. I know soon a comforting plate of creamed corn will be placed in front of me, not because it is supper time or because I have requested it, but because it is just one of those days, a moment only a mother can read in a daughter; a moment only a mother can fix.
And she does, crowning my bowl with an excessive slab of cold butter that quickly eases into a pool of salty liquid, disappearing just as rapidly as my foul mood does.
Each bite warms me, fills me, sweetens me, brightens my heart. And the memory stays. Ready for the taking. Anticipating the moment where, maybe, I’ll be having a tough day and I’ll walk into a cute café and order a coffee and…what’s that my eye spots? Ponque de Elote? Cornbread!
I ask for it and to my delight it arrives warm and is like no other cornbread I’ve tasted before: it is moist, buttery, salty, and sweet. It is my mother’s smile all over again. It is her assurance that the day will get better. How could it not with so much love and goodness?
Ponque de Elote (Mexican Cornbread)
½ cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup buttermilk
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
½ cup fresh corn kernels
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8-inch square pan.
2. Melt butter in large skillet. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan. Stir in cornmeal, kernels, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.