Among the few clear memories I have of my maternal grandmother, there are three that make my skin crawl: she embroidering in the backyard of the house, braiding her very long gray hair and passionately kneading a mixture for donuts that she would later cover with the whitest cloth I have ever seen in order to let it ferment and double in volume.
My impatience wanted to lift that mantle every so often. But she would playfully spank me and silently offer me one of the hardest lessons for me to learn: sometimes we just have to wait if we don't want to spoil it all.
Years later, my mother began to earn a living between stir-fries and stews. I accompanied her on her long days and played at being a waitress until a boiling soup fell on me and I lost the desire. For as long as I can remember, its seasoning mixes Mediterranean pleasures with the flavors of the Caribbean. However, he never taught me how to cook.
In fact, it was almost impossible to enter his temple of flavor. He never asked for or wanted help even though he needed it. And if it occurred to me to express my desire to learn, I would only respond with a concise: "well ... look at me." Indeed, I learned by observing it and calculating, always through taste, what ingredients and quantities each dish contained.
Although I knew that many years later, when I was finally the owner and mistress of my own kitchen and I was able to put my skills to the test. If I managed to imitate their flavors, something inside me celebrated. Not to mention the times he managed to overcome them olympically.
Laura Esquivel was right when she wrote LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE: Life would be much more pleasant if one could take the tastes and smells of the mother's home with them wherever they go, beyond any bitter memory.
It was just reading it how I figured out what that strange thing that connected me with the kitchen consisted of. It was a communication that went beyond words. A way of giving and receiving love among those who did not learn to express their emotions in a better way.
In addition, "when it comes to eating, an extremely important fact, only fools or the sick do not give it the interest it deserves." Perhaps that is why, at home, when someone does not have a good tooth, it immediately raises suspicions. They are codes that unite us.
American chef Julia Child, played by Meryl Streep in Julie & Julia, said that his first meal at La Couronne (the oldest restaurant in France, founded in 1345) was "the opening of his soul and spirit." In this way, she understood that, despite the hardships, "the pleasures of the table and of life are infinite."
And it is that ... cooking and eating is an act of love towards oneself and towards others. For a while, I confess that I was not able to say this out loud because, for some rare reason, in certain environments I was made to believe that this was contrary to being a “liberated woman”. But if something has changed in my burners, it is precisely that: we all get involved in doing it.
In my house, the doors are always open and the hallway full of smells. Any celebration starts in the oven. Neighbors enter the kitchen directly from the gate. Friends always have something to put or take out of the fridge. It is a space where imagining is allowed, go well or go bad.
From each dish, a lesson can be extracted for the day to day: "only pots taste the boils of their own broth" is my favorite phrase, the one I remember every time someone judges the other's life or when I almost fall into the temptation to do the same. Most of the time I focus on my fire and my cooking.
I also celebrate the condiments that others give me because as the story goes: we are all born with a box of matches inside, but we cannot light them alone. We need the help of oxygen and a candle. Oxygen, for example, would come from the breath of the person we love; the candle could be any food, music, touch, word or sound that generates the explosion that will light one of the matches. Each person has to discover what will trigger those explosions in order to live happier.
Tell me your story, write it anyway, together we shape and share it. Spreading the different forms of love is always necessary: [email protected]