Powder and Soda
Rows upon rows of bottles and jars rest along her high counter. It looks more like an old apothecary than a kitchen; she looks more like a lab tech than an artist, carefully matching a syrup or brew to one of the carefully lined-up measures, pouring a hint or a drop into a vessel and patiently observing and noting everything about it--how it reacts to the other elements, what it needs to round out its flavor profile, and other decisions important to her, but unseen by most. She is a master of these, the tiny measurements. In her mind she systematically works through variables and outcomes, extrapolating from these micro-experiments, understanding what she will need to bring to the table when the time comes to create a large batch. She fails often. She learns every time. She measures again.
She cried once, into a pile of sifted flour, and mourned for weeks. Not a single one of her fourteen varieties of salt could quite recreate the exquisite flavor, and no matter how she tried, she couldn't make herself cry enough for a test batch, let alone the whole order. “Can’t cry enough or cry too much.” She thinks of things that way. A maddish kind of scientist.
Today, she is trying something new. The lavender oil has already been rejected in favor of elderberry syrup. The powders and sodas will react as she intends; she is the director of their chemical symphony, and nothing will go wrong, she is sure. She drops two large yolks into a bowl of equal parts oil and water - the mixing bowl stares menacingly back at her for a moment. “Challenge accepted,” she smiles as she grabs her whisk and begins blending with a little too much enthusiasm.