To me, food is more than sustenance. It is more than part of our culture. I believe food has the power to bring people together and create memories. My whole childhood was full of cooking; with my grandmother, with my dad, with my mom. My closest family friends and I used to use my pretend kitchen to make gourmet meals of plastic chicken and rubber vegetables. I even wanted to be a chef for most of my life, before I found my love for Spanish.
My grandmother never made fancy recipes or extravagant meals, but she always did her best. She made her own pickles using cucumbers, vinegar and spices. Whenever her and my grandfather would visit, or if we went to their house, we would have what my mom called an “everything on the table” lunch. My grandmother would put out all the condiments, arrange all of the lunchmeats and cheeses on a plate, cut up a wide array of vegetables for toppings, and bring out all the bread, rolls, and crackers. Of course her homemade pickles were the centerpieces.
Cooking with my dad was a simple thing. Spaghetti and jarred sauce, or pan cooked hot dogs with sauerkraut and frozen French fries. Sometimes he would throw three or four canned ingredients in a single pot to make his own “Tom’s stew”.
When I was about eight years old, my mother and I used to play games that centered on cooking. Sometimes we would pretend we had our own cooking show. I would help by stirring the ingredients together, or cracking the eggs. When we were feeling even more creative, I would pretend I was in college and was home visiting. My mom would pretend she owned her own restaurant and I was home just in time to help her cook a gourmet meal for celebrities. Ten years later, I still look forward to going home and cooking with my mom. Although we are no longer “cooking for celebrities”, we make the same delicious recipes, like chicken cacciatore, or eggplant parmesan.
When I become a mother I will be sure to pass down my favorite hobby to my children. I value my own memories with my family more than anything, and I hope my children will take value in the memories we are sure to make in the kitchen.
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