My mom is notorious for burning herself while cooking, and slicing her fingers on too-sharp kitchen knives.
She doesn’t follow recipes and afterward can never say exactly what ended up in the mix. Despite this and because of this everything she cooks is delicious and impossible for me to replicate. A meal with my mom is a one-time experience.
She dashes around the kitchen and throws things into pots, things I didn’t even know my kitchen contained and never would consider combining. She says that when she reads a recipe she can taste the finished dish in her mouth. Vegetables should be roasted with fresh rosemary. No fresh rosemary? We’ll use nutmeg and dried ginger instead. The kitchen cleaver becomes an extension of her hand and she uses it to gesture and point at things from across the room, slicing dangerously through the air between us.
When she cooks, I get out of the way.
Yesterday, mom’s early morning flight arrived in Denver and we drove directly to the farmer’s market. In Colorado, strong wind signals a change in the weather, which these days usually means snow. The farmers held onto their tent poles and reminded us there were only two weeks of the market left before fresh local veggies would retreat until April.
Today it is indeed snowing, and last night our dinner was dug from deep within the ground, where the soil is still warm and the frost has yet to penetrate. We bought beets and carrots, sweet potatoes and butternut squash. Turnips seasoned with garlic, shallots and yellow onion, garnished with hard smoked goat cheese.
My mom likes to say that food is love. Her food is fierce and its production is often overwhelming. She’s never been one to hold back and hurls herself whole-heartedly into whatever task, whatever conversation or inspiration is before her in the moment. She is constantly re-inventing but I know that when it comes to her food, her love—whatever it looks like—there will be plenty and I will be full.