Ina I’m Not
I was never really taught to cook. Not really. Unless we count that one quarter in 7th grade Home Ec where I mistook salt for sugar and made the nastiest pie ever imagined. Maybe that’s why I don’t like pie? Regardless, let’s not count that quarter because other than the awful pie I don’t remember a single other thing I was taught.
And so I’ve stumbled along in the kitchen, at once wishing I were more comfortable there but also not having a tremendous desire to get better. Until a year ago.
Once the baby entered my life it seemed like a good time to get comfortable in the kitchen. One, because I’m told feeding babies is looked upon as a good thing and two, joking aside, I would like to pass on a better relationship to food to her. And that, in my head, meant that I needed to get serious about cooking - I certainly have no illusions about this task. I hardly have visions of being Julia Child. I just need enough dishes in the rotation to not have anyone groan and say, “We had that three days this week!”
I’m 47 years old so, yes, I have spent time in the kitchen but let me put it this way, at no point have I ever considered inviting anyone over for dinner or have volunteered to make anything for a potluck. I don’t think people should suffer what normally passes as dinner fare in my place. My cooking is to put it kindly - serviceable. More often than not whatever I make is well done because I lose interest or just forget.
But that’s the past. We are living in the now. And in this ever changing world, the present includes me making chicken soup - almost like they make it back home in El Salvador.
On Monday I decided I wanted soup but, of course, didn’t have the necessary ingredients so we made a quick trip to the store. By the time we got home, however, it was too late to start the soup and have it in time for the kiddo’s dinner. So I put it off to the next day. The next day I discovered I’d forgotten several of the vegetables. I could have still made it but it just wouldn’t have been the same. Given that we’re still living through a pandemic, another trip out wasn’t in the cards so I placed a grocery delivery order. Finally, Wednesday we had soup. I know this happens to everyone at some time or other but in my head all the missteps just add to my feeling of not being adept in the kitchen.
So along with my cooking skills needing to get better, my self-perception will have to change as well. Why is everything work??
Thursday, on a whim, I decided to make pupusas. This is noteworthy for me because when I’m going to make something it usually entails so much thought. Can I do it? Do I want to? Let’s look at the 100th YouTube video to make sure I know what I’m doing.
But I’ve attempted pupusas enough that the process is pretty clear in my head. The technique still needs work but at least I’m realistic enough to know that even getting to good is going to require some effort. Skilled and consistently delicious? Well, let’s keep that dream on the back burner for now.
The pupusas came out pretty good. Probably the best batch I’ve made so far. It’s progress that I consistently think each batch is better than the one before.
So, in my basic cookbook, we have chicken soup and pupusas (let’s count the curtido as a separate thing, shall we?). It’s not enough to open a restaurant but it’s a solid start. If I keep this up, by the time she’s ten I’ll have 20 whole dishes down! Exciting.
Posted on 1/29/2021 in Dailies | Parenting |