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  • Genine Babakian

The Little Red Saucepan

The red saucepan has seen better days. It sits in the garden, battered and broken.

How many years has it been since it first cradled that tortellini in cheese sauce? Hosting a roux as it bubbled and browned? Tickled by the milk that was whisked in? How long has it been since it passed from its original owner to his upstairs neighbor? A going away gift as he moved on to bigger and better things.

I’ll tell you how long. It’s been 29 years. Twenty-nine years since Peter Martini made me that cheese sauce and gifted me the little red saucepan – an item he had purchased in Moscow’s first western supermarket. Peter got a new job. Moved out of our crumbling apartment block on the outskirts of town to a posh new flat. But he wasn’t in town all that much. He traveled to war zones and produced stories the world would watch on the news, dodging gunfire and bombs with good humor and British pluck.

But he did not dodge the drunk driver in the Kamaz truck; the one who ended his life, slowly, by the side of the road near the Baltics border.

Since then, I’ve renamed the little red saucepan the Peter Martini memorial pot. And it has been an active member of the kitchen team. A perfect fit for box macaroni and cheese, or to heat up soup. It’s been used in school science experiments (how long does it take for oil to boil?) and licked clean by the dog. But last fall, when its enamel chipped away and exposed a potentially hazardous underbelly, the pot was retired.

“I’m sorry friend,” I said to the pot (yes, I talk to the pot). “I’m taking you out of rotation.”

It’s silly, I know, but I didn’t have the heart to throw it away. So, I put it in the garden, where it awaits its next reincarnation. I think, perhaps, it’s time it becomes the Peter Martini memorial planter. Perfect for herbs. And I can still talk to it.

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