For years I watched my mother work her magic in the kitchen. Even my earliest memories contain me and my mother working in that sacredly small place. Indeed, the mere thought of a kitchen is enough to bring me back to the days of happiness, when life was bursting with promise.
In this earliest of early memories, my mother was, of course, actually cooking, while my six-year-old self was sitting at her feet, obviously in the way, but oblivious to anything but her Mommy presence nearby and the strange, scented concoction I was brewing on the floor. My stew came from a Make-Your-Own Scented Lotion Kit and hers was homemade chili. That was how we bonded as mother and daughter, always creating in our lab, the kitchen.
Fast-forwarding to 19-years-old, we are still the pair in the kitchen. Except, this time, I alternate between preparing baked sweets and intensely writing at the computer next to the kitchen table. Writing, though a longtime passion of mine, became an obsession shortly around 16 years of age. But baking was still my other defining love, and so I shared time between the two, like my mother caring for her two rowdy daughters. In this memory, my mother is still cooking–or rather, she was attempting to cook with me underfoot, just like always.
Writing and baking (and recently cooking) have always been connected to my memories of my mother and intertwined with my view of the kitchen. In my world, the kitchen truly is the heart of the home. Cooking and writing, twin loves of mine, historically occurred in the narrow kitchen of the rented house we lived in with my mother. Recipes were not for my mother, although her favorite reading material happened to be any cookbook with interesting recipes. She merely envisioned and created. I tried mimicking her, and on occasion I hit the mark. However, the writing part was most often the one that benefited from her “imagine and go” attitude. I would write and write for hours at a time, beginning after dinner was over and only stopping when my mother would come downstairs from her bedroom and amusedly remind me that it was already three o’clock in the morning.
When she passed away, I lost that writing and cooking part of me. It was only a year later that I realized that, here, right in front of me, was the way to commune with her memory. Surely, if she loved it so much, these two estranged loves could bring me back from despair, I thought. And so I began to cook again. I baked. Then I wrote.
Writing, however, is still a struggle to call back to me. Some days pass at times where the emotional stress from living in a not-so-nice household eats away at the words inside my head. So, I bake and I cook to ease that agitation. At times I might post a few recipes or food-related items because I figure, heck, if food is famous for being comforting, I can’t be the only one out there who might want to comfort myself in the making!
Making food and writing stories is a form of securing comfort in a world that seems so suddenly harsh and alien. Like a little girl, lost and searching for that motherly presence, these two actions serve as a sorry but soothing surrogate. Food, security, and love are all entangled in my concept of kitchen. So those of you out there who find yourselves guiltily mixing the three together, stop feeling guilty! They are the cornerstones of human life, the foundations of all good, new starts.
Welcome to my blog, then. With this post, I will have embarked upon the rollercoaster of our collective story.