Ah, Mom’s famous… well, it might be almost anything from Duck a l’orange to ‘call to the Chinese take out.’
Most people assume that part of being a mother is being a really great cook. Funny thing, though, mothers are really just like people sometimes, and each individual one may be better at one thing than another. Some of them really aren’t good cooks. Some don’t have the time. Some don’t have the talent. Some can make fabulous meals out of nothing, and some still couldn’t produce something vaguely edible even if an army of professional chefs stood at her elbow instructing her. Still others are fine within a specific range, but not so good when they venture beyond the borders of what their mothers taught them.
My mother? Well, she was one of those women who have a real gift. The kitchen was her realm and all the foodstuffs within bowed to her will gladly. Sure, she had the occasional disaster, like that Thanksgiving when the cranberry jelly never really jelled. And her pie crust, well, let’s just say that from the time I made my first one, she never bothered to try making one for herself again. If she needed pie crust, she called me in.
But aside from those little wrinkles, yeah, I grew up with a mom whose cooking really rocked.
Still, there are particular dishes that I remember more fondly than others. Her potato salad spoiled me rotten. It involved vinegar in the potatoes, a top layer of sour cream, and decorative slices of hard boiled egg. It was bracing, yet decadent all at once. And at Thanksgiving she made this amazingly delicious cranberry sherbet that was served as a palate cleanser with the meal.
I only wish I had the recipes.
But more than her cooking, I remember spending time with her in the kitchen. From early childhood, I would post myself on a stool at the counter and chat with her while she cooked. Later, she taught me the basics of making a good meal. Sometimes we even worked in tandem. Hanging with Mom in the kitchen is quite possibly my favorite way to remember her.
What about your moms? Great cook or lousy? Did she teach you to cook? Was she an object lesson? Did you teach her? Any particular dishes – brilliant or terrifying – you want to tell us about?