My father taught me a lot about cooking and the love of cooking. While he wasn't responsible for the endless daily sustenance my mother churned out, he did have his memorable repertoire: cinnamon swirl bread, canning up pickles and applesauce, fudge, Belgium waffles and, of course, the weekly Saturday night ride to Mc Donald's on my mum's night off from cooking. I remember vividly riding shotgun, the black vinyl seat of our yellow Chevy Impala sticking to the back of my thighs, the fragrant white paper sack perched between us, the ritual tasting of a hot salty french fry, 'just to be sure they were OK.'
I am grateful to my father, gone now for over eleven years, for so much but in particular for the way he shared his time in the kitchen with me. I was always welcome to stir a pot, or sprinkle the cinnamon sugar or taste a spoonful of something. My mum was good with this, too, but that was more the usual thing. My father's time was special, an extra bonus, that gave me a chance to stand side by side with him, pitching in to create something that was not only fun to make but delightful to eat. Double the pleasure.
That's him, above, pulling dinner from the oven, a perfect moment captured. From him I learned that the kitchen is a place of sharing and generosity. A place to explore the pleasures of making things with your hands, to splash about and experiment and enjoy the process as much as the result. He also taught me to taste for he was always offering a spoon, or sticking his finger into something. Try this, he would say. Is it good? What does it need? Is it ready?
May your Father's Day be full of the pleasures of tasting and sharing company with whomever has inspired you and made your life tasty and full and sweet.
(Image: Dana Velden)