A week before Jon's and my wedding, I went over to my Aunt and Uncle's house. She was preparing 20 lbs. of fresh tuna for our day-after-the-wedding brunch at their beautiful home. The house is like another member of my family, one who has supported me through both the best and the roughest of times. Many of the rooms, including the kitchen, have gorgeous views of the marsh, inlets and the Carolina Intracoastal Waterway.
Previously my Aunt had marinated the tuna with olive oil, soy sauce, salt, pepper, garlic and ginger. As I watched her sear it with butter, I took in the fact that all of her work was being done in honor of Jon and me. For our wedding. That in just over a week, I'd be back at their house eating the tuna while surrounded by family and friends, and I'd be married. It was exhausting and exhilarating at once.
As the tuna cooked, my Grandma, who lives around the corner, stopped by on her afternoon walk. Three generations of Coleman women stood in the kitchen, feeling the heat and hearing the sizzle of the three saute pans. One, an expert at making old world food like brisket, fried salmon cakes and the best latkes you've ever tasted. One, who is revered for her hospitality, entertaining prowess, and fresh, delicious, nourishing meals for groups of four or forty. And me, a voracious and experimental eater since childhood, who would like to take the culinary know-how of my closest relatives and friends, unravel it, and create my own kitchen traditions.
When I left the house to head back into the world of pre-wedding chaos, I took with me the strength and love I'd felt in the kitchen. It helped carry me through the final wedding countdown, and followed me right back up the steps of the house a week later when Jon and I crossed the threshold as husband and wife.
The tuna, now coated with black sesame seeds, was tender and flavorful. I ate it like someone who'd never had tuna before, noticing its thin sinews and its grain as my tongue went with and against it. I piled it on my plate again and again, savoring both the newness and familiarity.