She scooted around the kitchen. Couldn’t find more among paper doilies, or with placemats in the china cabinet.
The doorbell rang. Gunter returned from the train station with his mother.
It was the elderly woman’s first visit to the newlyweds apartment. Carolyn had hoped all would go well. Now this.
Dinner was served in the dining room. The guest lifted her portion of a torn napkin. Waved it for all to see.
Gunter could have apologized in the language his mother knew best, German. How his wife overlooked. Had no time to shop. Could’ve shopped if the stores had not closed before she made the discovery.
He placed the matching half onto his lap without saying a word.
Dishes were passed around. Servings taken. When the vegetable bowl arrived, their guest declined.
Sensing Carolyn’s disappointment, Gunter scooped up a double portion. Took one forkful. Made a face. Had no more.
“What’s wrong?” Carolyn whispered, leaning towards him.
“Tastes, well, uh... like...”
“Tastes like what?”
Carolyn didn’t understand. She had spent time rounding up recipes she was told her mother-in-law would enjoy. Recipes with good reviews. Did Gunter advise incorrectly?
The guest said something in German to Gunter who translated it to Carolyn, who in turn replied in English to Gunter, who translated it into German for his mother. The cycle repeated itself until an understanding was met between them.
The guest rose, taking the bowl with vegetables to the kitchen. Carolyn and Gunter followed.
Vinegar was removed from the lazy Susan. Sugar and salt selected from the seasonings cupboard. An apple was picked from the assorted fruits bowl.
Carolyn and Gunter watched the experienced cook do her magic.
Back at the table, the vegetable bowl made its encore appearance. Everyone dipped in. Generous portions were taken.
The blues had lifted, thanks to the appetizing red sheen of cabbage.