Sunday, November 9, 2008

Letter To Marcie - Cooking

To my dear Marcie,

I wanted to thank you about something I do almost every day, which I enjoy, and which I might have given up if it were not for you. Cooking.

I know, I know. I knew how to cook when we met. But you gave me the right and the appreciation for my cooking that made me wanty to cook. You inspired me to branch out, to try new vegetables, foods and tastes.

Most of all, you did not snicker when I told you I knew how to cook.

I learned how to cook passively until my early youth. Watching my father and grandma Pruett, my mother in much younger years, and my Aunt Gemma lent me a curiosity I never had the approval to pursue at home. But I watched and memorized their tricks.

My Aunt Gemma let me cook an omelet once. She was impressed that I had learned to flip it without breaking it. I was 12.

In foster care, I gravitated to the kitchen to observe the preparation of mass meals and learned how to cook in bulk, but with flavor. It was wonderful, and I occasionally got to help, even preparing my first meal for others in a group home at 16.

We had baked chicken breast with carmelized onion and lemon-soaked garlic on top, a side of home-made french fires, a salad with my own dressing, and vegetables were carrots and broccoli, lightly steamed and served with a ramekin of teriyaki and veggie broth.

I did not cook much except for myself after that farewell meal, but I always wanted to again.

You cooked for me and opened the world of French and Italian cuisine. You showed me that different potato types had different uses, not all peppers are green and bell, and convinced me to make my own sauces, fusing the tastes I knew well with those you loved.

You expanded me (in more ways than one). You gave me cooking. I don't know if that kind of inspiration will come from any women I might meet in the future.

You also let me experiment, you let me cook for you, and you honed my skills with knives and tools and techniques, and you taught me a little baking, though I will never be the better of the two of us in that department, either.

What I appreciate most was that you understood that I did not cook to threaten your domestic standing or make you irrelevant, and that if I was better at some style of food than you were, you left it to me.

You did not make me feel less anything for my little hobby, and making you smile when I cooked was always a proud and happy thing. Thank you for doing that every time, even when I know I had as many misses as hits in my cuisine.

There is so much more. Until next time...