When I was little, I’d ask my mom if I could help her “cook”, but as dicing or julienning vegetables was deemed too dangerous, I was demoted to Chief Rice-and-Produce-Washer. (Hated it. Booooring.) When I hit the double-digits in years, I was sometimes allowed to sauté or stir-fry (with repeated warnings, of course, to watch my wrists over the hot pan edges, which warnings, it seems, were not as effective as accidentally doing it once). When I was a teen and Mom would actually invite me into the kitchen to watch, help and learn, I couldn’t care less. So I didn’t pay any attention to what I was doing, if I accepted the invitation at all.
Fast forward a decade and somehow I got married…and even popped out a few kids. And lo and behold, overnight, I became Head Cook! (Say wha?!) (Side note: Hey single ladies, give that bachelor neighbor of yours who can cook, or better yet, likes to cook, a second glance. He’s probably “the one.” Just sayin’.) Anyways, as soon as I was held accountable for the sustenance of other people (tell me about pressure, man), Mom and I became best (telephone) friends (BTFF’s) and our convos generally went like this:
Me, trying to sound as cool and casual as possible: “Hey Mom, how do you make _________ again? Oh, and __________?”
Her regular response was, “Aigoo chamneh” (translation: “ugh, are you kidding me?”) See?! Why you didn’t watch and learn when you libbing at da home with us?”
“Uh, I dunno, Mom. Because hindsight’s a [bleep]?”
So NOW, I have a little one constantly begging to “help” me in the kitchen, and it’s hard as heck figuring out what she can do that’s safe and actually helpful. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree either – she too complains that washing the uncooked rice or produce is boooring. So, already busy enough flying about the kitchen (and mildly desperate for help), I’ve promoted her to Head Stirrer…at age 7! (Talk about movin’ up in the world real quick, right?)
And so continues my confused love-hate relationship with Cooking. Sometimes I love him, sometimes I hate him. Generally, I vacillate between instantaneous agony upon hearing a cheerful, “What’s for dinner?” (at which point, I muster every ounce of self-restraint to resist groaning, “Uggghhhhh. Must you eat dinner every day?”), and proud satisfaction upon getting a “Mommy. I love your cooking. It’s the best” (at which point, my innards collapse and I sheepishly blush, “Okay, okay. What would you like Mommy to make you? Anything. Just ask.”)