For Jess

More than anything, however, her caramels I would miss the most. Oh, I had the recipe, had it memorized right down to the exact degree Fahrenheit the milk should be, but nothing could replace the steady hand, the uncanny timing she consistently and continually exhibited. I could never recreate the precise hue, that plain yet rich sunrise of her elastic Eden. And while they praised me for superb texture, I could never achieve her delicate balance of dental and lingual ecstasy: not so hard to crack your teeth, and not so chewy to pluck them out of your skull. It was malleable as pure gold, but worth so much more. Customers had to be sitting to fully enjoy her euphoria because the moment one of those delectable morsels touched your tongue, your brain would tell your knees to give out, your eyes to curl backward in your head, and your lungs to greedily suck up any extraneous aroma. If you were serving to a standing room only crowd (which I did almost every night) you were doing it wrong.

I looked at my feeble attempt, that contemptible crystal bowl full of bewax-papered fool’s gold, with disgust.

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