Everyone, in some way, has idols or inspirations that have helped them grow in mind, body, and spirit. I have a whole group of women, who unbeknownst to most of them, ushered me towards that sacred and hallowed place in every person’s home: the Kitchen. So I shalt honor these Saints the only way I know how…by blogging about it.
The Saint Series: My Mother
Growing up, I had many wonderful meals at my family dinner table. They just were rarely made by anyone in my family. Unlike some home chefs, I did not develop my love for cooking by watching my mother painstakingly, and with great love, prepare the family Sunday dinner. On the contrary, my mother never met a steak she couldn’t burn or vegetable she couldn’t boil into submission.
In her defense, Nancy pulled the short straw for picky eaters. My mom married a picky eater (my dad has a very strong aversion to squash). Then, together, they had three kids, which resulted in three picky children. My oldest sister hates fish; my middle sister didn’t eat vegetables or fruit until she was a freshman in college; and until this very day, I will not eat fruit unless its an apple, an orange, or a pie. Not only did the matriarch of my family already have an aversion to cooking, she also had to plan meals for a group of people with deranged, self-imposed dietary restrictions.
That is not to say she didn’t try. She regularly put food on the table and clearly had an appreciation for good food…and wine. (Boxed Pinot Grigio is Nancy’s jam). Being with her family was always very high on her list of priorities; cooking was definitely not.
This diatribe may sound mean or whiny (probably because it is), but my family’s — more specifically my mom’s — inability to cook well or enjoy cooking, was actually a perfect recipe for creating a dedicated home cook. You see, I was a bit of a smart ass growing up. So when I finally got fed up with eating ANOTHER burnt piece of hamburger masquerading as “well done,” I told my mom, in no uncertain terms, that I would rather eat cardboard than the charcoal briquette that she had served me. Instead of punishing me for being an ass (and I was most definitely being an ass), my mother turned to me and said, “Then you can make dinner.” And that’s where it all began!
My mom, very bravely, gave her youngest daughter free reign in the kitchen in exchange for not having to cook for her family. The only rules I really had to follow were that I had to clean up at the end of the night and I couldn’t have a kitchen torch (I wanted one soooo bad). As an angst-ridden teen, the freedom to do whatever I wanted, even in one small area of my life, was so exciting that I didn’t even care that my mom had basically tricked me into doing a household chore that she had no desire to perform. The freedom I had in the kitchen was intoxicating. Cooking became the thing in my house that was just my thing. Granted, no one else in my family wanted to do it, but, still, it was mine. The kitchen became my refuge, my fortress of solitude, and my happy place. And what better gift could a girl ask for?
So, in conclusion, thank you Mom. By being too tired to care what your children were doing, you gave me the freedom to find something I feel truly passionate about even as an adult. You also made sure that you would never have to cook another Thanksgiving dinner for the rest of your life, which is some genius parenting. So, Cheers to you St. Nancy! May you always find a good meal and may your box of wine never cease to flow!
*Neither I, nor my mother, received any free boxed wine for this post or any other kind of payment. This is especially troubling for me. I would have really appreciated some free wine.