COOKBOOK | Recipes

We aren’t going to dive into cooking until next week, but until then I’d like to share a story of how I came to enjoy preparing meals.

My earliest memory of food was waking up to the smell of my Great Grandmother (GGM) brewing coffee, cocoa tea, or Horlicks (a warm malted milk beverage). The morning air was always damp, crisp, a tiny bit herbaceous, and spicy. That’s my earliest memory of food. I recall her having her morning how beverage with either Ovaltine cookies or cream crackers. My GGM, being one of the sweetest and most protective women I know, always greeted me with a smile so warm her face lit up with cherubic joy. She’d exclaim as she saw me: “Chazzy!” Followed by 5 million and six kisses.

I always associated food with warmth, care, and nurturing because of the women on both sides of my family. My great grandmother always felt a need to prepare something for me. In all honesty, I wasn’t the biggest fan of her food, but I ate it because I saw how much love and effort she put into preparing it. Note, I was an obnoxiously honest child growing up; if I didn’t like something you were sure to know.

“Chaz, do you like the food!”

“No.”

“How obnoxious!”

My life as a child: succinct with honesty—in other words blunt. I wasn’t (still not) a fan of euphemism; I believe much truth gets lost, but with my GGM I would lie all day every day to make sure she’s smiling. Which is incredibly irrational, but she exudes love and pleasantness. It’s a bit obnoxious, but I love her. My Mom is very similar. 95% of my approach to food stemmed from my mother’s views and actions towards cooking.

Similar to my GGM, my Mom shows her affection and love through her actions. One way was through cooking. I loved being in the kitchen when my Mom cooked. Her process seemed like a precise, calculated yet graceful dance, and her stage was the kitchen floor. Everything was often super fresh in our kitchen. In prep school, my Mom woke up hours before us every morning to prepare our breakfasts so we could take it with us in the car so that we could sleep in a little longer. That’s an incredible amount of passion and dedication, and I tear up because I mean, I’m not the greatest son I could be, but I do acknowledge everything my Mom has done for me. If my mom had no money, food or shelter and I needed her urgently in China—she’d be there in 2.6 seconds, and an army of people she’s rallied to help fix the situation.

I try never to ask my mother for much for the reason that she’ll compromise herself for my gain. That breaks my heart. Growing up, I’d show my Mom how much I appreciated her by asking her for one thing: food. It’s not what you think, as a child, my mother encouraged my sister and me to cook and create. I asked for ingredients so I could make single-plate meals for her. I remember I was in grade 1 or 2 thereabout when I attempted to make my mother a fruit salad. WHO TOLD ME TO DO THAT? Let ’s say several toilet rolls later, that nearly ended up with me going to the hospital—and no, not because I had explosive diarrhea.

Food, love, and joy were always synonymous for me growing up. My godfather would have bounties of food and wine during the holidays and invite the world over to laugh and joke. All these memories are why I love to prepare food, especially for people I care for or who hope to show care. If I’m in a bad mood, I stay away from making food, especially for anyone else. I put all of myself into anything I give to anyone, and I instead cook a meal that embodies the spiritually good elements of myself.

There’s a lot of “love” I have to share because that’s who I am. I can’t compromise on that. So next week, we will get our hands clean, then dirty and clean again by preparing ourselves something that embodies self-love, nurturing and care.

XXCRD