Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Good Cooking

One of the reasons why eating out is not tempting for me is because my mother is a rockin' cook. I usually spend my evenings moaning over my dinner, licking the plate, and cutting into someone else's portion. 
When going to neighbors on Friday night, I was amazed how often their meals that they present so proudly fail by comparison to Ma's food. They look expectantly into my eyes, waiting for the complimentary gushing (which I adequately fake), but I think only a couple of times was I tempted into seconds under another roof. 

Many would happily chalk her skill up to some Marie Barone stereotype - a grandma product of Europe who has "the love" to truly cook classic recipes, unlike her cooking-inept daughter-in-law who is always trying something new (reference the Marie's Meatballs episode of Everybody Loves Raymond). 
Whenever someone says to my mother, "You enjoy cooking," she is incredibly insulted. She doesn't love to do it. But she wants her family to eat well, to not be tempted by take-out junk, so she makes the effort.

The reason why Ma is a good cook is because she's always willing to learn something new. If she's channel surfing and Jacques Pepin is on, then she drops the remote and picks up a pen and pad. At Costco she'll always check out a new cookbook. If she tastes something fabulous at a simcha, she'll ask the caterer how he did it.
There are so many people out there who refuse to try anything new in their lives. They seem to think that if they experiment successfully, somehow previous choices are belittled. What was done until now is suddenly "no good." So they will insist that whatever they do is perfect, and never leave their comfort zone. 

If their neighborhood is no longer the ideal place to be, they'll refuse to move. If a friend has proved to be a bad one, they will still remain loyal to them. If they dress a certain way or wear a specific wig style, they'll keep on wearing it over the decades.

They will persist that their life is wonderful as is

I don't see how doing something new invalidates past choices. A neighborhood could once have been the best for a growing family, but no longer when the kids are out of the house. A friend is only as good as their influence and loyalty, and if that is given up one should find better friends. As for fashion, times change and more flattering styles are sold, plus at a certain age one can no longer wear a flowing raven-black wig.

I hope that the will to try is hereditary.


Yedid Nefesh said...

Hope you send this to your mom!!

Princess Lea said...

She can't operate a computer. But she was flattered when I told her about it.

SiBaW said...

I view that talent as a knack, either you have it or you don’t. Skills, recipes, and technique can be acquired, learned, and memorized, but nothing compares to those chefs who just have natural ability. Personally, I think those of us from Hungarian descent have good cooking skills in our blood, but that is another story. ;-) :-P My mother also wouldn’t say she enjoys cooking, but she enjoys seeing the end product. I know exactly what you mean though. I’ve been to meals at other people’s houses where I would have preferred to not eat anything. I think this subject is scarier for a guy. What happens if you’re accustomed to good food and your wife isn’t all that talented in the kitchen?

There are limitations to accepting change even amongst those who are “open minded.” Personally, I am not crazy about this whole Indian food craze that has been going around. However, for arguments sake, let’s make a hypothetical… I surmise that if blond hairs become the de facto thing and everyone was sporting it, you wouldn’t dye your hair just to go walking around as bleach blond… that wouldn’t be Princess Lea like! :-) Everyone has their lines where they are willing to change. But you’re right; some people draw that line a little too close to home…

Princess Lea said...

SiBaW, you're Magyar? So am I! Ha! My momma's in a Hungarian cook!

When I say my mother tries new things - it's more like tips on how to cook, or little changes. She's not making new insane dishes, just making the old stuff better.

Indian food - meh. I was not advocating trends - I am anti-trend! I was saying experiment, because maybe something will work.

SiBaW said...

I know. That’s why I mentioned it… :-)

It’s interesting that you say that. My mother used to be the same way. Here cooking style was more traditional per se, yet she’d try new techniques and tips all the time. However, in all the irony, through the influence of my siblings she has started experimenting with non-typical dishes and cooking styles. I guess people can change given a proper impetus.

Hmm… that’s hard to say. Pan-Asian food started as a fad, but seems to have become a staple. Sometimes you have to experiment with fads to see if they have staying power.

Princess Lea said...

No way I'm using cumin. Blech. Just garlic for me.