Monday, June 13, 2011

Who Taught You to Cook?

We all come to our passion for cooking with fresh, natural, organic, local and sustainable ingredients via different routes. But before there was a connection with food, there was a connection with someone we loved who loved to cook.

Mark Bittman found purpose and confidence in the kitchen before he became a food writer for the New York Times. It's how he took care of his family.

I grew up in South Louisiana, child of a blue-collar family that didn't have a lot of money but ate like aristocrats.

Food was fun - an occasion for friends and family to gather around a table, talk, laugh, take pleasure together. Food was love - a way to show one's care and to nurture others.

Mother was an indifferent cook. She did it. She wasn't into it. But Daddy. Man, my daddy could put on a spread.

Mouth-watering barbecue with a sauce that lit up every taste bud. Eye-watering chili. Soulful gumbo. Fried chicken. Fried catfish. Hush-puppies so light they melted in your mouth. Biscuits and gravy. Pancakes drizzled with maple syrup. Pies. O.M.G. Chess pie. Pecan pie. Lemon meringue. Chicken pot-pie. You died and went to heaven when you ate Daddy's pie.

As a little girl, I spent many a Saturday in the kitchen with Daddy, chopping onions for barbecue sauce or soaking up the good vibrations from so much love being poured into measuring cups, sauce pans and skillets.

As a teenager, I asked my Daddy to teach me to cook. He would not accommodate my request.

"If you can read, you can learn to cook."

I was crushed. But from then on there was never a Christmas that passed without the gift of a new cookbook from my father.

Daddy's been gone for 18 years so I hate to disagree with him. It's true that if you can read, you can learn to cook. But you get your feel for it from someone you love.

Who taught you to cook?
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