Rebuilding The Culinary Cellar

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Loss comes in many shapes and forms. Today, I want to talk about loss of possessions; the kinds of things that are near and dear to one’s heart and can never be replaced. Things that shape your identity and mark treasured life moments. Things that celebrate who we are. For example, years ago I lost the itty, bitty diamond in my engagement ring. It wasn’t an expensive piece, but the love and sentiment behind it made it feel like a huge loss. The ring symbolized a most happy once in a lifetime moment; a traditional sign of love that could never be replaced. I still think about it from time to time. Sure, I got a new ring. It’s bigger and brighter, but it just isn’t the same. Yes, it is just a thing and things can be replaced, but with cherished memories attached it is hard to let go.

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Another loss I want to share with you today is a big one that affected my friend Debbie and the culinary world. Debbie writes one of my favorite blogs, The Culinary Cellar. I had the privilege of visiting Debbie when William was starting his Navy career at Great Lakes, IL. While he was in boot camp I was sitting at Debbie’s kitchen table enjoying the warmest hospitality and most delicious baklava pastry.

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However, the biggest treat is waiting for me in Debbie’s basement. I get a tour of her famous culinary cellar. As I descend the stairs my eyes fall on numerous shelves bearing the weight of nearly 4000 cookbooks. In front of me is a massive old-time library card catalog filled with thousands of hand-written recipes collected since Debbie was 12. This is a lifetime of memories showcasing her love of cooking and generations of award winning talents.

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The variety of books is like none I have ever seen. There are rare and antique volumes. There are obviously much-loved books dog-eared and stained. There are souvenir books from all over the world documenting memories of family vacations and travels. Some are autographed by famous chefs and most have hand-written notes lovingly penned into the margins giving advice about a recipe. Each and every book has a story beyond its pages. Each and every one is treasured and so loved that she shares it with the world through her blog. She is a generous soul.

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Now imagine the devastation when in the middle of the night during a violent storm a town retention pond fails and pours 7 feet of water and a ton of mud into Debbie’s cellar wiping out just about everything. Nine tons of cookbook debris were lifted up and dropped into a dumpster just a couple of weeks ago. Imagine opening that door above to this: 19990436_10102505366467335_4001791307728415727_n

A lifetime of memories and a valued collection washed away in an instant. How does one recover from such a physical,  emotional and shocking loss?

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Well, if you are a part of the Debbie Vanni family, you just do. Talk about super human strength. The rebuilding of the culinary cellar is already in progress. Support from family and friends and strangers far and wide has Debbie re-grouping and cutting her losses. She is no Debbie Downer! Truly an inspration. I look forward to visiting again some day.

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To read more of Debbie’s story check out her blog here The Culinary Cellar

thank you to Debbie for sharing theses photos with me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 thoughts on “Rebuilding The Culinary Cellar

  1. I checked out her website. So great to see so many people sending her new books and well wishes. Luckily I have room for my baseball cards on the 1st floor of the house so nothing is in the basement.

    • Debbie’s collection was so large that the basement was the only place in the house that could hold it. The weight of those books alone made the basement foundation the perfect place for them. The cooking world is filled with sharing and caring people and although we cannot replace those hand-written notes and treasures we hope to replace many of the books.

  2. I would be in tears. She’ll rise like a Phoenix from the ashes and rebuild new memories.

  3. My heart goes out to Debbie and the residents of Libertyville, a wonderful place that I called home for 12 years. I happened to be visiting there recently, just after the recent floods. The amount of ruination left on people’s curbs, before the trash pick up by FEMA, was astounding. Sending supportive wishes for renewal and resilience.

    • So glad you still have ties to Libertyville as some of the nicest folks I know live there. It must have been quite something to witness the clean-up first hand. Supportive wishes are always welcome

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