Food and cooking is certainly a serious part of who I am. I have always had an attraction to cooking from a very young age. Many of my favorite childhood memories are wrapped around preparing and sharing meals with those I love.
I remember standing on a chair to help my older sister make breakfast before I could reach. I can still smell all the wonderful smells from our very eclectic kitchen. My mother’s family is from Puerto Rico and I grew up with all of the amazing dishes she learned from my Abuela. She also made efforts to make West Indian dishes for my Trinidadian father. We were never afraid to experiment and try different cuisine in my house. I was also lucky enough to have a best friend whose mother made the best Indian food.
I always felt a gravitational pull to the kitchen and whatever was going on there. The smells, the chatter of the adults, the warmth all made me feel that I was a part of something special. I strove to not get kicked out and found the best way was to become useful. I quietly watched and listened, then slowly I learned.
Even as an adult I find “food memory” to be strongly ingrained. When I am sick I still long for my dad’s homemade mac and cheese or oatmeal like only he could make. I have yet to attempt a lemon meringue because I fear I could never achieve the perfection of his peaks. The smell of Arroz con gandules takes me back to the holidays and asking my mother for the rice with the “baby beans” before I knew what it was.
As a parent, now that my oldest lovie is 3 and a half I have recently experience the beginning of a dream come true. She is now old enough and thankfully eager enough to help me in the kitchen! It is truly a dream come true to see her run for her step stool to join me at the counter. She is so happy whenever she sees me about to cook something. Today she had her first lesson in picking leaves off the cilantro to prep them for making Sofrito. My heart swells when I think of us years from now (along with her little brother) making fragrant memories for years to come.
*Yes that is me helping with the groceries at about 2 years old