November 26th, 2012

When my mother asked her grandmother, my great-grandmother, to teach her to cook, the old lady was sly. She handed over a pastry recipe, for example, with the spice that turns sugary white bread into choreg somehow absent. A recipe for stuffed grape leaves was intact, but had a few unnecessary eggs thrown in at the end. It was like this with everything my mother got from her; every recipe was almost right, but not quite. She didn’t want anyone to cook as well as she did, my mother says, telling it as a story of how mean her grandmother had been.

She, my mother, can’t be so overt, then, about protecting her position as the best cook in the family. I’m not scared of her the way she was scared of her grandmother and if she handed me a screwed up recipe I’d call her out on it. So she’s subtle. Yes, she says, of course I’ll show you how to make that. When we have more time, she’s been saying for years. When I press her she says that cooking is hard and offers to take me shopping instead.

And so it is that everything I’ve heard that one should learn from one’s mother, I am learning from the internet. I’m telling all of this to you, our guests, because I know that many of you have played, and continue to play, different roles in the development of this, my new mother, who knows way more than my old mother anyway. Since it’s the season of gratitude, I’d like to thank all of you makers of the various software and hardware that are not only teaching me to make the dishes my ancestors made, but are helping me on my path to doing all of them better than my silly old biological mother ever could.

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