I met Kelly when in the Windward Island where she ran a small beach side restaurant called the Wayward Café. When I say ran, I mean she shopped, cooked, served, managed and handled complaints and compliments with the same sunny grin and shrug of her small narrow shoulders. Kelly was a tough old bird, probably quite the looker in her day when her hair was blond instead of grey and her large owl eyes were not looking through thick lenses and when she still had all her teeth. Her skin was leathery and weathered like the skin of a lizard, wrinkled, sunburned and transparent at the same time and held in place by her girl size skeleton which was protruding in all the pointy places, her knees, elbows and shoulders. Her hands were calloused, her fingers long and slender, with yellow nails that bent like claws. She never complained about her arthritis or her aches and pains of which she had many, I could just tell. ‘No point in complaining, it wouldn’t change anything,’ she said when I pointed out the burn on her arm.

            ‘Getting burned is part of cooking,’ she proclaimed in her Kiwi accent, laughing her throaty laugh which shook her whole slender body. 

            She had trained her local girls well and they made the best fruit smoothies and cocktails and they knew what white people from across the water liked: strong coffee, crusty bread, unsalted butter, crispy potatoes, creamy or sautéed mushroom sauces over their meats and white sauce on their fish except for the tuna which she served seared with a wasabi sauce. Even though the Wayward Café was just that and not a fancy eatery, Kelly’s food was the best on the island. Every Tuesday she baked her famous sourdough bread, which tasted more like a French or Swiss loaf than the usual island variety of white and soft wonderbread. I would line up for a loaf of her bread to take home and the dozen loaves she baked for sale were all reserved and coveted like slips in the marina. If somebody wasn’t going to be around for their weekly ration, they would pass the privilege to a friend or relative.

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