Did You Mean: Khavits

by Jordan Nishkian

The only thing Google could tell me about “Kah-Vitz” was that the Toyota Vitz (or Yaris) was manufactured from 1999 to 2019. I look over the ingredients set out on my counter, reading the distressed recipe card out like a scripture:

“From the kitchen of Araksi. Half a cup butter, one cup flour, one quart milk, one cup sugar. Boil milk, cook melted butter and flour until butter comes out. Add warm milk gradually, then add sugar. Pour in a buttered pan, dot with butter. Bake till light brown on top.”

(Araksi—Roxie—was my almost-namesake.) I pour the milk into a saucepan, waiting for the gas range to bring it to a tepid simmer. (Would I be so different?) I mumble over “until the butter comes out.” Perhaps a roux? I parrot what I’ve seen chefs do on Food Network and YouTube. (I may have been a better baker.) I turn down the milk’s heat when small roars break its surface. (I may have been a better Armenian.) I fumble with preheating the oven—375°? (My hands and tongue would know what to do with milk and sugar.) A slow pour of warm milk over tanned roux; stirring, stirring until the sugar snows in and dissolves. (My eyes would know if this looked right.) I smear the butter wrapper over a cake pan and begin to pour. (My mind would know what it means to “dot” something with butter, how to read the aybuben, how to cross an ocean for the sake of legacy.) Ribbons of batter fold into the pan. (There are so many things my family is okay with losing). I place the pan in the oven, then crouch in front of the window, waiting for my great-grandmother’s kah-vitz to brown.

About the author

Jordan Nishkian is an Armenian-Portuguese writer based in California. Her prose and poetry explore themes of duality and have been featured in national and international publications. She is the Editor-in-Chief of Mythos literary magazine and author of Kindred, a novella.

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