Burning wood, with just a hint of smoke.. the kettle bubbles on the hob.
Knives are sharpened, cutting boards scrubbed, jars sterilised, onions and garlic peeled.
Buckets of plump, rich red tomatoes wait alongside white earthenware dishes filled with spices – and the symphony begins.
My Aunt lets me strip the leaves from the fresh basil, and its clean fragrance lingers on my fingers.
Nona rarely mentions Kythera, except when preparing traditional recipes as she is now. I start to ask questions, I always have questions. My Aunt shakes her head as if to say ‘ ssh, let her talk’. Nona’s broken English fascinates me.
“Musta usa fresh, alla fresh.”
I smile. Most words have an ‘a’ at the end.
Nona starts cutting. “Justa so, Crissouli.”
Each piece the same size as the last, so the salsa cooks evenly. Nona speaks in Greek, Aunt laughs, they are happy.
The rhythm of the cutting continues, soft chop, chop against the boards.
It’s a large kitchen. A gentle breeze teases the white lace curtain. Pots are bubbling, each stirring releases that exotic spicy fragrance. Before long, the jars are filled and sealed and set aside to cool.
The little that is left over is poured into bowls. We sit, tired, but content, dipping chunks of that morning’s freshly baked bread into the salsa.
I hope Heaven has a kitchen.