Our grandmother, our Bubbeh, was proud of her ability to turn a cooked cow’s brain out onto a plate with all of the delicate folds intact. Zaydeh smacked his lips as he covered the surface of the brains with coarse black pepper. He held out a forkful of spicy thalamic lobe to my older brother.

“Come on, try it,” he chortled.

Michael shook his head, pursing his lips tightly. Brains, like tongues, look distressingly like what they are.

Zaydeh looked stricken, as if he couldn’t understand. To turn down such a delicacy! After all, a whole huge cow only produced one little brain. In Russia, at the age of seven, he would have had no chance of tasting brains. But in America …

I looked at him across a cloud of thinning steam that rose from the fork he held out in front of him. As I stepped closer, I wondered if that steam was the last escaping thoughts. And closed my mouth about the gray gelatinous mass.

Judith Beck has published short stories in In Posse Review and WebDelSol, and has a novel out with her agent.  She is writing series of family stories about growing up a red-diaper baby and the time spent in her grandparents’ bakery.  A physician, board certified in Internal Medicine, Beck grew up on East Coast and now lives in San Francisco.