My Mother, The French Chef

Morrell was my mother’s family name, a surname of French origin. Her given name, Vera, is not French, but rather a Slavic name meaning “Faith.” In Latin it means “Truth.” (A very fitting name for her, I might add.) Had my grandparents been more in touch with their roots, they could have kept the initial, “V” but named her a French name such as Victore, Vivien, or Veronique.

The French in Mom was evidenced by one of her cooking skills, namely, the making of roux. Long before cooking shows and recipes peppered with French vocabulary ruled the world of cookery, Mom made roux. The fact that she didn’t call it roux was no doubt because of her lack of familiarity with the French language. She simply called it, “thickener.”

Mom made all kinds of roux: butter and flour roux for the White Sauce (B├ęchamel Sauce to the French) used in scalloped potatoes and soups; pan drippings and flour roux for fried chicken or fried pork chop gravy, shortening and flour roux for pot roast gravy; bacon grease and flour roux for gravy to put over our biscuits.

While I was growing up, gravies of all kinds were a regular part of the menu at our house. This has made me wonder why the kids in our family were not extremely obese. I’ve decided that was because Mom cooked with a simple thickener rather than that fattening French roux. Just a theory!

Little Roux kids with their parents in Bladen, Nebraska (1938). Little sis came along nine years later.

Roux kids all grown up (2006). Ilene, David, & Vee


  1. Obese? We ate well, indeed. But we had no television, no video games, no cell "phones" and the whole outdoors was our playground. Think about it.

    Nice article!

    1. Vanilla, your are right. I'm sure we burned off as many calories as we took in while playing real world games. Among these were baseball, kick-the-can, hide-and-seek, Red Rover, and Mother may I? In addition we ice skated, roller skated, rode bicycles, went sledding, climbed trees, and hiked the foothills. There would have been no time in our lives for TV or electronic devices.

    2. And I am so glad of that. Your list is accurate, for I share the memories!