There's an art to cooking. As much measurement and specification and precision as the process of cooking a meal requires, there's an art--if you don't have that undefinable something, you can taste it in your food. It's the difference between merely good food and amazing food.
I understand the basics of making biscuits. So does my mother and my sister. So do my aunts. We all understand the basics of making biscuits. And yet none of us can actually make biscuits. No matter what we do or what we try, they just don't come out the way my grandmother's did.
I remember growing up there was a big sort of trough type thing we used to hold flour. My sister and I would sit or stand on one side of the counter and watch my grandmother add water and oil and knead the dough and shape it. Sometimes she'd let us cut out the dough into perfect circles with the rim of a glass but usually they were handshaped. And they were, somehow, always perfect.
We'd have them for dinner that night, usually with fried chicken or collard greens or something so quintessentially southern just saying the words conjures images of Sunday dinner on the church grounds. Some nights my granddaddy would mix together peanut butter and cane syrup and sop it up with a biscuit--that was dessert. If we had any left over, then in the morning we'd have refried biscuits and grits and eggs.
My grandmother passed away almost three years ago. Just thinking about her can still make me cry. I don't think that'll ever change. And I don't think I'll ever stop missing her cooking.