02 July 2008

About the Food

My first memory of a KitchenAid is of sitting in my maternal grandmother's (that would be my Nana's) kitchen watching the mixer spin round and round, while she did other prep work. I remember fresh whipped cream, fresh home-made pasta, food with such flavor... tastes I couldn't even begin to appreciate in elementary school. My grandfather sauteing mushrooms to go over the tender, juicy steaks he was grilling, big steaming bowls of baked potatoes, dishes with pristine white sour cream, creamy yellow butter, and vivid green chives.

My Nana had a "gourmet shop" (at least that's what we always called it), a kitschy little store in Vacaville that sold all kinds of appliances and cookbooks for "gourmet cooking". But, what I remember most clearly is the coffee. Giant bins of coffee beans. Coffee beans that would show up at the store in huge burlap bags, smelling fresh and strong, a smell I love to this day because it reminds me of the shop.

The only other memory of the store I have is taking cooking classes, learning how to make pretzels. I remember sitting at a table with some other kids and their parents, and watching my Nana in the overhead mirror, being so proud that she was the one standing up there teaching everyone else how to cook. Being proud to be her granddaughter, being proud to be standing there with my mom, being proud to be part of three generations of women who have the cooking gene.

I have a cookbook, with a handwritten message inside, addressed to my grandmother, and signed by Julia Child. I know there is a picture somewhere of the two of them together.

How does this translate to today?

I may not be a gourmet chef, I can barely call myself a "foodie," but I know what I like. I know when something is better than merely "good." And, I love to cook and bake, moreover, I love to cook for other people. I wouldn't want to do it professionally, that's too much pressure... I'd much rather cook for my family and friends, people I tend to understand, and like to think I know how to please.

I kinda think that's what a hobby like cooking is all about. Once you add strangers to the mix, you add pressure and stress. I'd rather do it on my own terms, enjoy the action, enjoy the reaction, enjoy the fruits of my labor.

I absolutely love being in the kitchen, and I have my Nana and my Mom to thank for that.

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