When your mother calls you from work and tells you, at 13-years-old, that you need to make spaghetti for the first time in your life, and that you've seen her make it so you should know how to make it, panic sets in. That was me so many years ago, I didn't have a clue. She said throw some spices in (which ones?) you know, a little of this and a little of that. How much is a little? I'm sure that when she got home she had to doctor the sauce to make it palatable.
My mother was a very good cook from a long line of good cooks. I think it was a sign of their worth, the women in the family, that they could make something tasty out of seemingly nothing. They would add a bit of this and a bit of that and something warm and yummy would show up at the table.
I'm making veggie spaghetti tonight and it has me thinking of that first time, when I didn't have a clue, when I was terrified I would make a mistake knowing that I would because I didn't know what I was doing. I hated not knowing what I was doing because that usually meant I was going to get into trouble.
All of this comes rushing back as I chop the onions, grate the carrot, slice the mushrooms, and add a handful of tarragon, a tad of garlic, a little basil and a splash of beer.
Stirring slowly around the pan, I think about the women over the years that have taught me to cook, -mother, grandmothers, mother-in-laws- and how I stood beside them, soaking up the knowledge, hoping I would remember.
When my girls became of an age that they could start making dinner and they wanted to know what and how much of this or that, I realized I had to figure it out. I didn't want them to feel the way that I did. So I guesstimated and told them how much of each thing and either they wrote it down or I did. And it turned out pretty good.
My spaghetti has evolved over time, it is very different from what I learned to make when I was a teenager. I've learned to trust my nose, what works well together, the flavors that I prefer and have made it my own.
How did you learn how to cook, if you did? Did someone teach you or did you have to figure it out? Do you measure precisely or add a dash of this and a hint of that?
Morgan Dragonwillow is a writing rebel, foodie, urban gardener, recovering perfectionist, poet & author that (mostly) doesn't let her fears get in the way of her passion for writing and creating. She is team leader at @StoryDam, creatrix of #OctPoWriMo You can find her writing and dancing into a wild and juicy life at morgandragonwillow.com. She lives in Marietta, Ga. with her loving and patient partner, their dog that thinks she's a princess, and the cat that reminds her that she isn't.You can also find her on Google+
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