Darlene Henderson was incredibly soft spoken. Many times throughout our conversation she would take moments to check how we were handling things, emotionally. She thoroughly cared. Thinking back to my interview with her, my heart shivers, if there’s any way I can say that positively. Thinking back I recall the emotions, recall the warmth of her worldview, recall the freezing numb at the sad turns.
She grew up in a family oriented household. Every Sunday, they would have a family day. No plans, they would spend the day together, and her mom would cook. At Vintage, Darlene is a little famous for her cooking. Hearing I wanted to interview people about food, her friends almost pushed me towards her. Growing up though, she was never very interested. That was until she got married. Darlene’s family was fairly traditional, so there was an expectation of her being the homemaker, and she was embarrassed at the prospect that she couldn’t cook. Fortunately, she and her family stayed close knit through her and her siblings adulthood, so she and her husband picked a house close to where she grew up. Whenever she worried over her culinary skills, she was able to turn to her mom. The first few attempts were mostly with her mother’s direct help, but eventually she began to get the hang of it, and came to be the great cook people know her as today.
Even into her adult life, her family would still have many days throughout the year where everyone would come back and have dinner together. Her mom would cook as usual, but with her new skills, Darlene would be helping as well. This was until her mom passed, and that’s where my memories become blurry from pure emotion. The rest of our interview was about losing people, but also connection. She and her husband were parallels, each time one of them would lose someone from their family, the other would see the same within months. The experiences have brought them closer than before, in spite of the pain. Today, Darlene serves the role her late mother would within her extended family. An anchor holding everyone together, and a cook who excites the whole clan. She wasn’t ready to divulge any family secrets, but is still a key name to know within the Vintage cooking community.