I learned to cook from some of the people I love the most. I remember:
- watching my mother use her fingertips to pluck hot lasagna noodles out of the colander and layer them in her long, glass pan to make lasagna.
- seeing my grandmother’s hands covered in flour, her fingers nimbly working the dough for cookies or pasta.
- admiring my dad as he expertly dropped eggs into a pyramid of flour, worked the gooey mixture over and over, then rolled them out to create noodles.
They didn’t give me cooking lessons per se. I learned by watching, standing at their elbow and watching them work their culinary magic. Occasionally, I’d ask a question: “Dad, why do you use two egg yolks but only one whole egg for the noodles?” Without interrupting his rhythm, he explained that one egg white helped to stiffen the noodles.
Since I learned so much from them, I feel it’s my responsibility to do the same. Enter my 3-year-old granddaughter, Briar. When she was just the size of a pea, I secretly hoped I could teach her to cook. (Well, I knew I had the ability to teach her. I was hoping she’d have the interest to be taught.)
Then, one magical day, we made our first cake together, her standing on a kitchen chair at my elbow, my helping her crack the eggs and measure the flour and baking powder. As she added each new ingredient, she wanted to take a taste. She learned that brown sugar tastes awesome; flour, not so much. She also learned that one advantage to cooking is licking the spatula.
So far, it’s been everything I had hoped for — and more. Usually when I see her now, she asks me when she’s coming to my house to bake cookies. It may be cookies and cake now, but I hope in a few years she’ll want to learn how to make graham cracker cream pie, Papa’s favorite; oatmeal cookies with brown butter frosting, Daddy’s favorite; and cheesecake, everyone’s favorite.
I hope cooking together will continue to be something special she and I can share. I also hope when she’s older, she’ll remember our cooking adventures with as much love and admiration as I have for those who taught me.
Have you passed along your culinary talent to anyone? If so, let me know.