My husband taught me how to cook.
Not my mami, not my abuela, not my tias.
I was 28.
A little shocking, right?
I’m Cuban-American I’m supposed to know how to cook — like, from the womb.
But, cooking was more function than art in my immediate family.
There were women — neighbors, friends, tias — who cooked and cooked extremely well, but my everyday gente were more perfunctory about the whole thing.
My grandmother did let me peel garlic and slice cucumbers and, you know, I have really fond memories of that, of being allowed in her kitchen.
My mom worked full-time, so our dinner was de cantina, and most often waiting for us in boxes and tins on the porch when we got home in the evenings. The food wasn’t bad at all, it just didn’t offer up the chances to watch a kitchen in full use y con gusto.
To say I am grateful to my husband for teaching me to create healthy and memorable meals is an understatement. When my 7-year-old says I make the best cakes, or flan (she doesn’t compliment any main dish), I get all happy happy joy joy. I wonder if she’ll remember our moments in the kitchen, if she will have no fear en la cocina?
So, here is where I am going with this: I realized a couple of weeks ago while watching The Real Housewives of Miami that I am kinda shocked by women who abhor the kitchen, or women (and yes, men, too) who are afraid to at least try to cook. Funny how you constantly learn stuff about yourself.
One Real Housewife said hosting a cooking party was the first time she ever used her kitchen. Did she just move in?
Another se freak-eo when she saw a dead lechon. Seriously? You’re Cuban from Miami. So, really? (And hola, where does meat come from Yes! Former animals!) It was so silly, I was embarrassed.
I keep waiting for the cameras to show the women doing anything house-wifey. Anything, por favor!
I’m not a fan of being judgmental. Really, I am not and I work hard to shake it away when it creeps up. But, as I continue to watch this TV show (one that seriously is depleting my brain cells, but one I cannot seem to shut off) it has made me think about just how strongly I believe in providing la comida buena to my family and friends. About how much I respect and love friends — male and female — who make great meals, savor the new, and set their tables for us, whether casual or fancy. How much I admire people who are competent in the home arts.
There should be no shoulds, right? What works for me, doesn’t work for everyone. You don’t like what you don’t like. (And I am, for sure, the one in the wrong for assuming fellow cubanitas would finally add some substance to this train-wreck TV series.) But, providing nourishment and being Real is worth striving for, no? Especially, when cooking does not have to be complicated to be good (and you have nannies who can do the damned shopping for you.)
I am a Housewife. A Real One. Most days, I look like a truck ran me over and I am always behind on some sort of household chore — whether it be laundry, mopping or getting more milk. (Yes, because I do too much tiki tiki for my own good…) Pero cohopio, 9 times out of 10, my family sits at the table together to share something either my husband or I have prepared … con amor y con gusto.
That’s my kind of Real.
Easy Latin Recipes for the Non-Cook
If you don’t cook, but would like to learn, please explore the awesome recipes we’ve collected during our nearly two years of Tiki Tiki. There’s nothing in there you can’t handle and much Latin American food to love and enjoy.
Be sure to check these out, especially.
And, if I can learn to cook, mi’ja, so can you.