Over the Cutting Board

  1. People ask me how old I was when I learned to cook, which is not the right question. At 29, I am still learning how to cook. The right question is when did I learn that cooking food for people gave me satisfaction. I was thirteen. Under the kind supervision of my grandfather I’d made a whole chicken for my family. And when my family leaned back from their plates, every one wiped clean, it was (and still is) a highlight of my life.

2. Always brine pork chops, even thirty minutes makes a difference between tender/juicy and dry/whyJesus.

3. My mother comes home with a whole watermelon. My brother, sister and I trail behind her into the kitchen. First she halves it, then cuts the halves into smaller piece, steps back. Us kids swoop in, hunch over the sink, juices dribbling down our chins. Dropping the rind, we have another slice in hand before the last hits the bottom of the trash. Ten minutes later we sprawl on the couch and on the floor holding our bellies. Sick and happy.

4. Try cooking rice well on the stove top — half the rice, double the water and patience. Some days I’d stare into the pot and scream, “Just get on with it already.” We have a rice cooker now.

5. On our third date, I made TJ spaghetti with an embarrassing red sauce and store-bought garlic bread. Served white wine from a cheap double bottle. Three hours later, after we’d made a grocery run for more wine he confessed he’d never been wine drunk. He was useless for anything, so I put him in my bed, crawled in beside him and went to sleep. I already loved him.

6. Over the cutting board, I work out the day’s problems and let my mind wander. While cutting onions, potatoes, and the delicate skins of tomatoes, I’ve written novels.

7. In Arizona, I lived and died by the whims of the crockpot. Burned beans left on too long, ate chili so hot it made me cry. But the truth is everything in Arizona made me cry.

8. This past Christmas, my best friend came to stay with us for the holiday. I spent her whole visit in the kitchen. I cooked and I baked until my feet and back ached from standing. Soon the counters and tables were crowded with so much food and everyone was too full to eat and I finally relaxed.

9. It’s been a long time now, since I could out-cook TJ, but he did school me in one way: garlic. He handles cloves with delicacy, removes them from hot oil before they burn. I’ve watched him dice garlic for what felt like fifteen minutes.

10. With food, I can say I love you. And not just the words. I have no problem saying the words. But when I make food for someone I love I am exposing my neck, submitting. Here is food to nourish your body, to please your senses. If you love my food, maybe you will love me, too.

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One thought on “Over the Cutting Board

  1. Remember in Greensboro when I was going to be making meatloaf for dinner that night, and you called me to tell me the guys would be joining us? I practically hyperventilated in the grocery store (and I’m pretty sure you knew it lol). “Exposing your neck” is a perfect way to describe it!

    Also “dry/whyJesus” made me snort-laugh.

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