Sunday, January 27, 2008

Comfort Food

Of the most comforting memories that I have that constantly assail me is standing beside my mother while she cooked. To keep me out of her way, she'd set me to the task of chopping, stirring, or mixing. This way I learned to cook; not from recipes, but from standing beside my mother. By 12 years old, I helped her turn out holiday meals for 6 to 10 people depending on who dropped by the house at the last minute, invited or uninvited.

Today, I vowed to try once again to make my mother's braised beef short ribs. I have Le Creuset cookware just like hers. I followed a recipe because this is one dish that I didn't learn from standing by her side. After an hour, I pulled the dutch oven out the stove tasted the short ribs like all good cooks do,and adjusted the seasoning. When my son sat down to eat, he said, "they're good mom, but they're not like grandma's"

And so the task begins, for on another Sunday, I will go to the market and purchase 3 lbs. of beef short ribs and attempt to recreate my mother's dish.

But it wasn't just the taste I was after, it was the way that she'd spend Sunday in the kitchen cooking, chatting on the telephone, reading a book, and pausing to answer my father, "Mom, where's the receipts for the credit card?" signaling to her that he was in his study paying the bills. Somehow the serenity and art that she created out of simple chores evade me. This is what I'm doing when I try to replicate her dishes, I'm not really trying to cook comfort food, I'm trying to find that comfort that she gave all of us as she went about her daily domestic tasks.


ssascms said...

Yes! Mom was an excellent cook. Her beef short ribs with potatoes, carrots, bell peppers and onions, and of course the many and various seasonings she would add were the "bomb". Boy, I could "taste" her ribs as I prepared a meal of baked chicken, mixed veggies and mashed potatoes for today. And Mom used recipes only when she was adventuring into something new; "experimenting"!

M. L. Simms said...

Oh, so that's what she put in hers, I didn't use the bell peppers. Oh, well.