For some months now, whenever I talk to my mom on the phone on the weekends, we usually end up talking about cooking. She actually likes to cook although she has little to no confidence in her cooking. If she invites folks over, she will preface her serving of the meal with comments saying things like the food might not be great. We always tell her she shouldn’t say that. That she should be confident with her cooking and not set up an environment of failure or lowered expectations. I think that it is hard for her since she lives in the shadow of my friend Joe’s cooking. Joe’s cooking is usually involved and sometimes fancy and always completely delicious. And don’t be fooled, he uses a lot of anchovies. And you might not think that those little fishies are totally yummy, but they are.
I have recently come to love buying ingredients which I have never used before and attempting to get my 8 year old son to eat whatever it is. Take hominy for instance. I did not even know what it was till I googled it. If you are uncertain, it is whole corn kernels soaked in something so that the outer part of it softens. The kernels turn into giant soft corn pillow goodness. I made a vegetarian posole with it. The 8 year old loves the hominy, the posole, not so much. But that is OK.
I frequently enjoy purchasing mystery vegetables to cook at home. After eating lotus root prepared in many different and delicious dishes at Yuzu restaurant, we now frequently pick up the strangely alien looking potato-like thing in Chinatown (we know where to get it) and make lotus root
So I have these cooking conversations with my mother, she keeps saying to me, “for someone who doesn’t like to cook, you sure cook a lot.” My answer is always that if I don’t cook I don’t know what my family would eat all week. Every weekend we have this conversation. It has taken quite some time but I recently realized that I may have to admit that she could actually be right. I spent quite a few hours in the kitchen on Sunday, cutting and cooking and just really liking it. I love trying new things and new recipes and new ingredients. While not everything is delicious (let’s not even discuss the egg fruit we tried the other night) most times I like the challenge to prepare something that is foreign. These cooking escapades have mostly resulted in good outcomes, unless you count the scary bitter melon that I couldn’t bring myself to use. It is a challenge that I will face quite soon, that ugly knobbly vegetable. Who knows, maybe this weekend.