Saturday, October 11, 2014

How I Learned to Cook: Part 1


webfood no noise chickenbalsamicquotes

A side tangent this week, as part of my Write31Days series on Christopher Alexander’s A Pattern Language. His kitchen patterns, whether it be the layout, the table, the windows (and he discusses each of those), all stem from his argument that the kitchen is the centerpiece of a home. Today, at age 44, I fully agree, but I spent much of life trying to stay as far away from the kitchen as possible.

224 italy

My parents, in Italy in 2004 I think. Aren’t they adorable?

One of my goals in life was to never learn to cook. My mother spent most of her life in the kitchen. She had nine children, one with special needs, and was married to an adorable Irish man, who never cooked. My dad loved my mom’s cooking, mainly because she cooked to his taste, and he was loathe to eat anywhere else or anyone else’s cooking.

webthanksgiving at mom's

It’s funny to me that I didn’t appreciate the craft that went into cooking, but I did always appreciate the time and attention my mom gave to setting her table. My mom set a beautiful table, as did my grandmother. Arriving at my Nana’s apartment, the table would already be set with linens and tea cups.


I remember buying those dishes in the above photo, one at a time from Pier 1, during the summer of my sophomore year of college. The A1 sauce and White Zinfandel crack me up. Decades before Instagram, I was already taking photos of our meals---well, not the food, just the pretty tables.

The first time we went out, Brian made me dinner. A man who cooks! This was completely novel to me. I made him dinner once that year, for Valentine’s Day, and it was a disaster. I misread the recipe, added 1 teaspoon of cayenne rather than 1/8th, to a stir-fry dish. Chivalrous man that he is, Brian ate it anyway. *Swoon*

 Thanksgiving 1999

Our apartment in 1998.

When we got married, Brian chose most of the items for our kitchen. He was the cook. I was more of a baker than a cook, so I chose the white Kitchen Aid mixer. Twenty years later, it’s still a workhorse in our kitchen. We still use the same Calphalon pans that Brian picked out, and the same Dansk blue dishes that we chose together, the same Chicago cutlery knives we received as a gift. I am grateful for the Midwestern tradition of wedding showers, and how our friends and families helped set up our home. I’m grateful for Brian’s insistence on quality over trendy, and my mother’s motto that if you take good care of things, they last.

The main equipment of our kitchen hasn’t changed, but our roles in it have. I went from a woman determined to never learn to cook to one who normally cooks six nights a week. In tomorrow’s post, I’ll discuss how I got past my fear of cooking, and why I’m grateful that I did.

31 Days button

This post is part of Myquillyn Smith’s Write 31 Days challenge. You can find all my posts on A Pattern Language linked here, and other blogs participating in the challenge (and writing on different topics) here.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely settings. Looking forward to the next installment--that's quite a shift 0 to 6!


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