Tuesday, September 09, 2014

What I'm Really Doing When I'm Cooking

Cooking had always been my Mom's thing.

My Dad was into interior design -- he had an earthy, artsy, non-gay, shabby chic taste even before shabby chic was a thing.

My sister has her shoes and bags and shopping. 

I read and I write.

My Mom, she cooks. She cooks like a scientist. No not in the manner of having exactness down to pat. She was like a scientist who loved to invent new recipes. Sometimes she fails, but we all tease her good-naturedly. Not asking her to experiment was like asking Albert Einstein not to discover the theory of relativity.

I wish I could say I had interest in cooking while growing up. I wish I could say I spent almost every Saturday and Sunday afternoon cooking and baking with my Mom.

I didn't.

I was a bookworm who would bite off anyone's head if they bothered me while reading. But I did poke out my head once in a while. It wasn't a big deal. Some days, I may have just finished reading a book, or Mom asked for help, or I was just plain bored. Those are the days I would help out in the kitchen, and now that she's gone, I'm really glad I did.

Do I remember the recipes? Barely.

But I remember the smell of flour and milk while I am tasked to whip the batter 100 times in the same direction. I remember the smell of cooking butter -- full, sweet, sour. I remember the tears induced by peeled onions, the searing pain of spattering hot oil. And i remember my Mom, fingers tearing chicken meat from the bone, basting a pan, stuffing a milkfish, hacking on pork bones, flipping an upside down cake and her beatific smile while she does all of it.

Cooking was my Mom's thing.

And what I'm really doing when I'm cooking is remembering her. It's a full immersion into my memories -- she is there teaching me how to peel the potatoes. She is there telling me to put the garlic first before onions. She is there telling me how long to cook the shrimp. She is there shaking her head when I burn the bread. She is with me when i cook.

The meals I cook aren't always outstanding. Sometimes, they turn out just a little better than mulch. But even if it's not my thing, i don't see myself not doing it. Because like my Mom, it became the language of how I show love to the ones who are still here for me to cherish.

Cooking was my Mom's thing. And i am my Mother's daughter.