I need my vegetables cut right.
It bothers me, if the onions are too big in my omelet or the potatoes are not actual cubes.
It was my dad who introduced us to the idea that how veggies are cut makes a difference to the dish…my son has reaffirmed the notion that taste and textures make so much difference to food!
Mom is a great cook, but I can’t ever imagine her to have a moment to pause and appreciate the beauty of her chopped vegetables. As long as they were clean and cut into sizes that could go in to a steaming hot stew, she was sorted. As a working woman and largely a single parent to three brats, I can’t even begin to imagine how she set up meals in front of us within twenty mins of coming home. And that’s all she had most days.
My Grandma was a working woman too. But by the time I interacted with my grandma, she had retired from teaching. That didn’t stop her from being busy, yet there was a method to her madness.
And she was particular. When she chopped her veggies, or when we sat down next to her to ‘help’ we had to follow suit. I don’t remember her scolding me though!
Her kitchen was humongous… And some of my fondest memories of kerala is in it. Watching her as she made butter, or climbed up into the cove for wood, moving from one place to another so swiftly.
And Jackfruit! It floods me with happy thoughts.
Not just because it was delicious, but because with it are attached so many memories of me sitting with the ladies of the house as they picked out the fruit.
In the beginning I was only allowed to pull the seeds out, but in time, I had the ‘privilege’ of holding a knife and then was the lesson.
I was shown by my grandma how every slice needed to be perfect, neither too small nor too big. They had to be chopped fine…how does it matter, some women argued since because it would all be mashed once it was cooked.
But she was particular…It mattered, and I knew better than to argue.
From then on it was important. IT STILL IS!
So imagine when a three & ten year old decide to partake in my cooking. There’s the part of me that must encourage freedom, creativity and experiential learning.
There’s the protective side that hates anything that risks my kids. Especially Knives!
And there’s is controlling part, so painfully particular and willingly giving up any sense of order takes every ounce of me.
And boy oh boy, have you seen the shapes that are going into the bowl?!
I wonder now, what it must have been to be a woman that shared her kitchen with so many others. To allow daughter-in-laws, relatives and grandchildren to partake in the process and not lose your mind to it.
I am sure, our moms and grandmoms did too.
But in these struggles I hope and imagine lie beautiful memories, like mine, that someday my children will carry.
Only if I can continue to zip up and run on MUTE!