After trying to convince my mãe to let me cook the family dinner for weeks, tonight I was finally allowed to take control of the kitchen. I decided to start with something simple, and decided to make spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce. I went to the market this weekend and purchased all the necessary ingredients for just over 100 mets, about $1.30.
To say my mãe was skeptical of my cooking skills would be an understatement. All day she kept asking me, “Do you need chicken? Are you sure? Do you need peppers? Are you sure? Do you need Fatima (our maid) to stay late to help you? Are you sure?” Despite her lack of faith, I was excited to get to cook and show her that I’m not completely useless.
The cooking itself was pretty uneventful. My sister helped me a bit, but since its such an easy dish it only took me about 30 minutes in total. When I was done, my mãe still seemed pretty skeptical,and allowed my sister and I to serve ourselves first. She tried a tiny teaspoon, and declared it bom (good). For a minute, I thought she wasn’t going to eat any more, but was really happy when she came out of the kitchen with a huge bowl of my spaghetti for herself. She did tell me that she thought it was going to be horrible and that she had actually made dinner before I got home just in case we needed a backup. She also told me that she thought it needed more salt and oil (not a huge surprise considering how oily and salty most of the food here is) and that she thinks it would be better with meat. I guess next time I’ll have to stop at the butcher and pick up some sausage to add to the sauce.
I was so happy to be back in the kitchen this afternoon; cooking is something that makes me feel like me. At the same time, as I took the first bite of my spaghetti, I felt more homesick than I have since my first week here. It made me think of cooking eggplant parmesan for my mom when I was home this summer, with fresh tomatoes from our garden. I felt the same way when I cooked banana bread a couple weeks ago. Somehow, even though I have used Mimi’s banana bread recipe enough times to have it all but memorized, I thought it would be different somehow here. When I took that first bite of bread still warm from the oven, I was both so comforted to be eating something so familiar, and so sad to be away from those who I normally share it with. I will also add that it felt awesome to be the one serving the food and dictating serving sizes for once. My family are serious members of the clean plate cub, and I am basically forced to finish every bit of wjst is put on my plate each night. I may have been a little vengeful by giving my sister a HUGE serving like she always does to me.