People often ask me where my love of cooking originated by using the question, “did your mother or another family member inspire you with their own cooking,” and my answer is always “no.”
We were that American family… always on the road to practice our sports…. eating burgers in the car.
On Sundays my paternal Welsh-American grandmother did create delicious meals for our extended family, but she did it silently and excellently until it just became an extension of her. To me the meals just appeared and we devoured them gratefully. She rotated through several favorites throughout the year, and always the same specialties arrived on holidays. Chicken Tetrazzini at Christmas and Pork & Sauer Kraut on New Year’s Day. She received the Tetrazzini recipe from my maternal grandmother when she tasted it at my parents’ wedding reception, but I don’t think either of them knew that tetrazzini was named after the Italian opera singer, Luisa Tetrazzini.
When we were with my grandmother on weekdays (which was always an exciting treat) she’d use the drive-thru at multiple fast food restaurants to satisfy our salivating palates, and would graciously deliver our greasy, fragrant food to us on a beanbag chair in front of the television. We were the quintessential American family. Although I know many American families would disagree with that.
If my sister and I were with my parents on weekends (when they weren’t busting their butts as full time school teachers) my mother would always whip up something good. It was always good, always simple, always satisfying, and often started from a box or a can. With her level of busyness I still can’t believe she managed these meals. My mother is the most amazing human being I know, but my love of cooking did not originate from her, or from my grandmother, or from anyone else that I know…
It just happened. Some where. Some day. In college I think I saw a recipe. I read it. I became excited to create it. So, I did it, and it turned out well. Hence, I cooked more… sporadically… between track meets and exams… between college and real life… between real life and real life.
Real life hit me the hardest when I had a beautiful daughter with my husband and he divorced me two years later. She was only TWO. TWO! His reasoning was weak. My reasoning would have been much stronger, but I am a fighter, so I begged him to fight with me to save our family. He said “no” without a valid explanation…
The divorce papers arrived. I could live without seeing him, but the thought of not being able to spend everyday with my daughter during her childhood was unbearable. What about Christmas mornings? What about her birthdays? What about every day, after school, with her circle time stories and her artwork?
He was awarded joint custody. 50/50. I would see her 50% of the time. From the day she was born I wanted and expected 100% for BOTH of us. Now I needed to accept 50% and I would never deny her a relationship with her father. She loves us both, and I love her more.
So, how did my love of cooking begin? When my daughter’s father would take her away I would head to the kitchen and cook. At first, cooking became my refuge. It became something to indulge in to keep the tears from approaching and to keep the sadness of separation from flooding my heart. Then it became a true joy. It wasn’t just a hobby to hide within when I felt like diverting my attention. I loved it. I love it. There are endless possibilities in cooking. There is so much to learn and relearn. Cooking began as a solace and ended as a passion, and I am forever grateful.
The Spice of Life Cook