Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What Works

Thinking about kitchens, cooking and the variables of being comfortable in that domain. The whole affair with food took me years to engage in, I was a slow starter. I began more like my mother who never seemed to be fully present in the kitchen and I’ve ended up more like my father who definitely found “the joy of cooking.” Now I’m getting to know my seventeen year old niece who opted out of the family vacation to Ireland. My brother and my lives went their separate ways when I left for college. I never really came back to NY so we drifted apart, our interest and life experiences taking us into different worlds. It was easier to keep in touch with sisters who had a similar language. As is often the case, a death, my father’s, brought us to shared ground, which magically became sacred ground. Our shared genetics, in spite of thirty years of a chasm, along with sharing the potency of the moment of death, has brought us back from the edge. Now it feels like we never spent all those years in separate spaces. 

So here I am in his world, his house, sharing ten days with his daughter, who I’ve barely crossed paths with all these years, while everyone else in the family enjoys the Emerald Island. The knock came and I knew in every cell I was going, there really was no decision involved. How could I pass up getting to know a seventeen year old niece? It’s been a little like getting to know a new part of myself that I never developed or visited. She is new to me and filled with her own ideas and inclinations yet strangely we are at home with each other as though I’ve always know her. One of the more amazing things I enjoy about her is her comfort in the kitchen. It turns out, unlike most kids who are avid TV watchers, she only watches the Food Network. This is incredible to me along with a delight. She has a level of ease in the kitchen I still have not mastered. She knows so many of the basics that I never really developed. I’m a self taught cook, no training but a few years of hands on experience. She has experience but also years of watching how to’s, what not to do, how to combine and when, and what works in food preparation techniques. This has given her a confidence and presence in the kitchen I’m still hoping for. The ease in this part of her life and this part of the house has made our sharing time as natural as breathing. 

I may be a visitor in her home and life but I’m certainly the one receiving the nourishment of watching a young pro with simple and elegant moves in her domain. Not to mention the gift of having a part of my family emerge from the depths of the unknown to feed a part of me I didn’t even know was hungry. So now I have expanded my repertoire of recipes along with new family possibilities. It’s good to expand and fun too. Like a new recipe, sometimes it really works-this works.


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