Post #9 Taste as you Go
The pre-aneurysm me was a hostess; parties and dinners were held regularly, if not often. The re-emerging me still loved cooking but was afraid to share my food experiments with others. That is an untruth. I did require others to taste my food at various points in the cooking process. The adage passed from bona fide chefs’ “taste as you go” was not practiced by me. I would not taste a completed dish unless one of my family members tasted it first. As they sampled, I braced myself for a disappointing critique. After their initial response, they were interrogated ad nauseum about things they knew nothing about, but I had to ask impulsively and aggressively. I learned some bad habits and they shrunk back in return. Why was I unwilling to taste foods I had put so much thought and attention into making? Why wasn’t it good unless someone else gave the feedback? Why did I want to control who tasted what I cooked? What was I afraid of?
I was afraid my food wasn’t tasty. Maybe I was afraid that my food wasn’t tasty = I wasn’t worthy. After years of a reputation of being a “good cook” I thought that reputation may have been built upon over-exaggerated hearsay. What if it was all really untrue? The euphoria of cooking came to an end. RIP. It was sad, I mourned. The world was a little wobbly. Then my husband gently asked: “Can we eat what we already have in the house?”
And some switch turned me on to food again! I loved the British show Doorknock Dinners, in which the host/chef would arrive at the house of a harried adult and cook a lovely meal with whatever ingredients were already on hand. Now, it was running live at my own house. In my kitchen, I was both host and chef. My family was amazed, just like the families on those episodes. And the menu expanded out of necessity. East Asian food has ingredients somewhat common to SoCal and Swiss diets. Southeast Asian food has ingredients common to Mexican, Mediterranean, and French cuisines. South Asian foods incorporate spices and flavors we associate more with the western nationalities that once imported them than the flavors of India, Pakistan, and Persia. We tried it all. The limits of trying not to run to the grocers or drawing from the abundance of earlier shopping trips liberated me. I learned more about the inter-connectivity of international cuisine.
And the non-verbal message my school-aged kids received was this: by tasting the world a little at a time, we are reminded that the world is a small, friendly place. So, when dinner was inspired by a daughter’s trip to Ghana or Jamaica, we could participate in “traveling” there too
and better enjoy and understand her stories. “The world is small and friendly” led me to thinking the border patrols I erected around my own home needed to become as hospitable as I wanted the world to be about me. I don’t host nearly as often as before, but our doors do swing open and others are served some-kind-of-food, with love.