Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Day 3: You Know You're in an Ethnic House When...

When I was a kid, my mom would attempt every trick in the book to get me in the kitchen. Asked nicely. No thanks. Offered tastes. Nah. Bribed with promises of handsome rewards afterwards. Eh. Finally, after all else failed, there was, "Get your ass in the kitchen because I said so." Ok, my mom would never say that, but you get the picture.

And so, I spent many a Saturday afternoon learning the tricks of the Thai cooking trade. Now I'd like to say once I got in the kitchen it was this harmonious passing of knowledge from one generation to the next: "Fry the garlic only until crispy. Be careful not to turn the heat too high because it will burn." What really happened was more like this, though:

"Use the side of the mortar when smashing the garlic."

"I know mom."

Dirty side glance from mom.


Little did I know that those afternoons spent in the kitchen would pay off. It would be a while before I saw the benefits, though. Aside from once cooking a grilled cheese in a wok during my grad school years, I steered pretty clear of the kitchen.

Today is a much different story. Not to say I am this culinary wizard or even love the process of cooking all that much. But, there is something about when I make a Thai dish -- particularly if it's Thai comfort food -- that feels like she's sitting right next to me. With my mother so far away and so different from the woman that raised me, memories can fade pretty quickly. It's hard sometimes to conjure up all those moments that made my mother such a good...mom.

But, then I get in the kitchen, chop up some garlic, fry it for Thai chicken-rice soup and it all comes back.

I made this before going out to the library with the kids yesterday. As we re-entered the house, that oh-so-familiar, pungent, not-for-white-people garlic/fish sauce smell greeted us at the door. And I smiled.

Aaaaah, home...


taraneh said...

i'm so glad you're back! i've missed you and your awesome blog!

chronicles of Momnia said...

it's good to be back!! xoxo

SARAH said...

Love your way with words. The part about your mom and memories is really honest. Great post :)