How my Childhood Influenced my Cooking as an Adult







Between the Seamless and GrubHub addicts the  pseudo  culinary whiz kids and  the  self proclaimed overly pretentious gourmands there is a  very small select group  of individuals who cook to actually cook.  I have no dietary restrictions, no allergies no weird diets although I can stand to loose fifteen pounds.  I cook because I love to cook, although your final reward in your culinary expedition is to create fall off your seat meals and nurture yourself than others, I have a very no frills approach to my love for cooking.


I will be the first to  say that in my family,  cooking  skipped a generation. If my mother ever reads this post, she will have  to admit she doesn't like to cook. My love for adding jalapeno  pepper to everything didn't come from her either. My grandmother, Mamie,  hailed from North Carolina and  was an amazing cook. Almost two years  after her death  it is still  hard for me to enjoy any of the Southern culinary delights of others because I will always compare it to my grandmother's. If I decline your potato salad, fried chicken or collard greens, it's because I have extreme culinary memory and I don't want to hurt your feelings if it doesn't rank with Grandma's-sorry. 

My first reading material wasn't See Spot Run primers, it was Good Housekeeping and McCall's. See, Mamie was the utter domestic, and besides the normal Black household literature of Essence, Jet and Ebony, her domestic goddess periodicals were sacred. What's an only child who didn't attend preschool to do? You read recipes and learn about lamb roast all before kindergarten and keep those traits years later. 


My childhood  was a  good balance of  fine dining experiences, home cooked meals and fast food. Special occasions we went to restaurants and usually weekends we had Chinese take out or Kentucky Fried Chicken.  Sundays were well planned hearty comfort meals. You know the movie Soul Food, well there's your image.  My grandmother believed in well balanced meals, protein, starch and vegetables- real vegetables. We ate collards, mustard, cabbage, salads before everyone started talking about green leafy vegetables.  There were snacks at home but I had an odd relationship with them. I'll have chips at school, but not at home and I loved fruit at home but not at school.

Fast forward to moving into my now first apartment and I carried on most of my childhood habits. I cook on Sundays, and judge people who order take out on that sacred day. I try to keep my pantry stocked with the essentials. Items I eat a lot of pasta, tomato sauce, olive oil I buy in bulk. When meat is on sale, I purchase and freeze it.

I'm like an old lady with my produce and I go far and wide especially for fruit.  I don't blindly throw peaches into a bag, I hand select every single one and usually only get enough for a few days- I don't want them to spoil. I plan meals around what's on sale, no going by a recipe, I can create a decent meal with bargain produce and markdown meat. Sometimes, I purchase ingredients in advance and wait until I have everything and then I make it. I'm frugal, I am a foodie and I love it.

What are your food memories? How do you channel your inner domestic?