Now You're Cookin'

I woke up this morning without an alarm clock, that was refreshing! I know that some of you woke up early this morning because you had to get started cooking. You probably have a long list of the various meats, veggies, starches, desserts, etc. that you are preparing today. I don't. I'm part the other group of people that often bring the drinks, paper items, or ICE. Whenever I travel to potluck events, people very seldom ask me to bring a dish.

Hmm, I wonder why. Well, I had the opportunity to really think about this as I relaxed on the recliner in the living room while my mom began prepping for Thanksgiving Dinner. It's not that I can't cook although I must admit that I don't like doing it everyday. Whenever I commit to cook something (most times with a very detailed recipe from memory or from a cookbook) it turns out to be pretty tasty. So why is it that I'm always assigned the ice or drinks or paper items? What is it that folks see about me that makes them ask me for anything other than something I have to cook?

As I lay there pondering these things, my mother was in the kitchen wrestling with pots, knives, meat, veggies. Maybe she made those sounds because she wanted me to help her, maybe she was just that engaged in prepping that it required maximum exertion. I thought about 3 times "you should go in there and help her" but I was really enjoying not having to worry about preparing food. I love to eat, I don't mind cooking every now and then, I especially enjoy following recipes and tasting my work. But the thought of cooking multiple things for several different people with different preferences, is not pleasant to me. I cook for myself and my son - that's it. I know what he likes, how he likes it and most times, I'm dead on. I cook for myself whatever I have a taste for and sometimes the foods don't necessarily "match" but they work for me.

Cooking for other people is an intimate process. You either have to know what ingredients and dishes are pretty much universally satisfying or you have to know the preferences of the person(s) you are cooking for. Most people that take on the responsibility of holiday cooking are good at either or both of these. People that have anybody over for any occasion are great at intuiting what everybody wants and likes. They know who will like something new and who will like something old with a new twist. They know how much of what certain people will eat and what needs to be conserved for those that don't eat "anything else". These intuitive hosts love to satisfy people. They thrive off of knowing that their food has caused someone to sleep well, unbuckle their belts, lick their lips or ask for thirds. Do you see these people eat? I know, when I go to my mom's house or aunt's house, I hardly ever saw them eat and if they did, it wasn't a lot. They usually got "full from cooking". I will venture to say they were full from seeing the effect that their work had on someone else. Food comforts us. It gathers us. Some of our fondest memories are around family, friends, and food. The smells of certain foods can very often push us back to moments where we sat at the big table or the kid's table and shared a meal with someone we loved.

The voice in my head repeated for the fourth time, "you should go in there and help her" - I gave in. I went in the kitchen and began chopping, slicing, squeezing, mixing whatever ingredients my mom instructed me to. I silently watched her, trying to make mental notes of what she put in, when she put it in and what she did when it was in so that one day I could replicate it. But what I realized is that her ingredients were not recollections of mental notes but from heart notes. She knows me intimately. She knows how much I like collard greens (without red peppers) so she makes more of it just for me. She knows that I like the turkey breast so she rubs it differently and puts a special spice (at least I'd like to think she does). That's intimacy!

To all of you intuitive hosts, I salute you. Thank you for thinking enough of us that you make food that warms our souls, produces great memories, comforts us, refreshes us and nourishes us in so many ways. I know there is no detailed recipe for discovering your gift but I'm watching you and maybe, just maybe, I'll invite you over for a meal. And if you like it, I know I've been a good student.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!


  1. Love it SIS! i feel like you are sitting here talking to me!


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