The first thing I remember cooking on my own was a large pot of fudge. I remember the pot was olive green with black bakelite handles, cracked and loose and rather frightening to hold onto! The recipe had been casually recited to me by my sister’s boyfriend, and I rushed home to try it out. The result was so hard that it could barely be scraped out of the pan, but boy, was it good! I was 10 or 11 years old.
For a number of years that fudge was the sole recipe in my repertoire, hard-candy-like always. In fact, my family came to prefer it that way! My mother didn’t mind that I played in the kitchen…when she wasn’t there. But she somehow never got around to teaching me or my siblings how to cook. Busy and no-nonsense, she preferred that we stay out of the way. I wish I could say that I just picked up things over the years, but in truth, that fudge was it.
I do have lots of food memories, though. I remember making my mother her coffee and tasting it to make sure that it was sweet and creamy enough. I remember fried chicken at picnics in the park. I remember cookies shared among my classmates. I remember mother making everyone’s favorite pie at Christmastime. I’ve always been aware of how food connects people—to each other, to a place in time, to the seasons (even if those seasons equated in a young girl’s mind to “holidays!”), and even to the wider world. But when I left home without being able to cook, I realized that I didn’t have the ability to create those connections. I wanted to cook. I needed to cook.
And so I learned (and continue to learn!). I learned not only how to combine ingredients into wonderful meals, but I’ve also learned to care—about where those ingredients came from, about who grew them and how, about why honoring the seasons matters, about how to reduce waste, about how choices matter. Thus, I practice ethics in the kitchen, I do, but I do not preach. I tell you this so that you know where I come from and what motivates my choices. I know that not everyone shares my views, and that’s ok! Everyone should follow the path that brings them the most serenity. Food connects, remember?!
Delectatus means “delighted” or “charmed.” And a good meal, lovingly prepared, is indeed a delight—who could deny it? It is my hope that what I offer here brings delight. Enlightened Epicureanism is a good way to describe what I have in mind for this blog! Cook for yourself, because you’re worth it. Cook for others as an act of love. Start with fudge, if you’d like! You never know where you’ll end up…