Bless you, Tia Miriam

Tia Miriam showing us how high she could kick her leg, Summer 2007

Yesterday my Great Aunt Miriam died. She was a woman of remarkable strength and humor, but our greatest connection was through food. Even the news of her death was interspersed with a recipe for spiced plum juice.

She was the Julia Child of the family. At times she horrified us with chicken jello and mystery meat pate, but her desserts were divine and her recipes always worked. The last time I visited her in Chile in 2007, I watched her take a meringue to stiff peaks with only an analog whisk in hand. I could only help for a minute or two before aching for an electric mixer...and she was the one with severe osteoporosis and 70-odd years of age. I hope I inherit some of her strength.

I'm grateful I got to spend some quality time with her in the kitchen, writing down recipes and learning tips and tricks along the way. From her I learned to add a piece of cinnamon stick when caramelizing onions to make them more digestible (and to lend an exotic air to any sauce); that everything tastes better with garlic; and that jam is done when you can see the bottom of the pot as you stir.

She loved to experiment in the kitchen and dreamed of coming to help me in my chocolate shop. I'm sure we could have made some amazing flavors together.

Tia, you will always be loved and missed.


  1. Oh Malena, I'm so sorry you lost her, while being happy you had time with her.
    Thank you for posting this.

  2. Your cousin MichelleJuly 23, 2010 at 8:01 PM

    What a great article! I know how much she loved to bake pasteries. I remember watching her as a young child making papusas and that flaky cake with the condensed milk. Maybe it was becuz of her that I became the betty crocker of desserts in my family. When I lived with my 5 roomies, I used to make cakes, cookies, brownies and anything else that was a dessert and I loved watching my room mates come home with a big smile on their face when they saw whatever it was that I made on the counter. Thanks so much Tia Miriam! Oh, how we ALL will miss you!

  3. @pops thanks for reading :-)

    @Michelle I wanna taste some of your baking! I remember that condensed milk cake--Torta de Milojas. YUM! Do you remember the chicken jello? It was clear with pieces of meat floating in it. I have a vivid memory of your brothers eating it & I was soooo grossed out! They must have been about 10 years old.