A few days ago I was talking with a writer friend about cooking. She wanted to write a cookbook of her family’s recipes, but was frustrated that her mother hadn’t taught her to cook.
My mom actually barely taught me how to cook; she would say “Just watch,” when I asked. She had me chop a lot of onions, and stir a lot of onions, and corrected me as I did that wrong (generally working too hastily, too carelessly).
Amma also told me a handful of recipes (usually without much in the way of measurements), but that was about it, in terms of explicit teaching.
But I ate her food every day for twenty years. More and more, I’m realizing that the real cooking lessons were embedded there. Amma cooks beautifully, deliciously, and as a result of all those meals, my mouth knows how our food is supposed to taste at its best.
Also, sitting around with her and my many aunties after a party, critiquing the dishes, was an education in itself.