Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Mother's Day and Food

Many of us remember our mothers and grandmothers by the food they cooked. Even when we outgrow or become more "sophisticated" in our tastes, it is those supper dishes we remember. My Mom knew very little cooking when she and my father were married. She learned on the job.

While my father loved steaks rare, she needed them cooked quite done. Vegetables were always done past the current style of al dente. I've come to appreciate the value of a really well cooked vegetable as I age. There is a time for it.

Whatever she cooks, she cooks with love. Today, I can still see that she is cooking something that she thinks her family will love. She never wants to cook something that we will not like. This is a big deal in a family where some of us have strong likes and dislikes.

I can remember the first time that I made something at school for Mother's Day and felt embarrassed by giving it to her. It was a pipe cleaner flower. It just didn't seem to express how individual I felt my love for my mother was. My one son is getting to that age where you can see his feelings about making something in a class environment that doesn't reflect him. They are a mixture of feelings. Even his dad gets it wrong sometimes.

When the children were younger,  I wasn't sure whether we should brave the crowds for a restaurant meal on Mother's Day. It seemed too much for me. I assumed that it would be too much for the children and my wife. Big mistake. She had wanted to go out. So, we tried going to a restaurant that I mistakenly thought would be good. A ribs and barbeque joint, and I was sorely wrong. My wife said it was her worst Mother's Day ever. I felt the same embarrassment that I felt giving my mother the flower when I was younger. Thank goodness, our kids were too young to remember. I've felt that I could never make it up to my wife.

Every year since then, we have made her breakfast in bed. She gets this treat a minimum of twice a year. The other time is on her birthday. This year is the first year that instead of "helping" me make breakfast, my kids will be helping me. It does mean that we have to keep it simpler but you can tell this is something that they are putting their feelings into.  They are excited and keen on helping with the menu that is already loosely set. The kind of joy and love that they are putting in reflects how I feel most days when making meals for them and it is interesting to see it so unbridled and apparent. I only wish that I could show that same enthusiasm on the outside too.

I can see the toned down version in both my mother's and my cooking. Trying to cook something that I know my family will like but sometimes my worry gets in the way. I do remember my mother faking her delight at all the gifts but there was something genuine in the response as she realized where it was coming from. Sometimes, the reaction to what I have cooked is the same but most times, it is gratitude and happiness at being well fed and well served.

By the way, we will be going out for lunch afterwards but it is a surprise. Shhh!

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