I grew up in a family of strong Southern women. I was raised by three of them, my mom, my grandmother and my aunt. All three had one thing in common; they were excellent cooks. Their kitchens were realms of pure gustation and olfaction magic. Even today I can remember many specific meals each prepared, each dish, right down to the sweet tea.
No matter what was going on in the world or the family, food was always a way to calm the storm. They expressed love by preparing meals fit for kings. Even though we came from very meager means, dinner time was always a feast. No lobsters or rib eye steaks were on the table, but five-star dishes just the same.
So it was no surprise that I found myself a natural in the kitchen from an early age. I also discovered that I had picked up the family gene of almost never needing a recipe. We seemed to have been genetically preprogrammed to be able to replicate flavors just by one taste. Some people can play by ear; I can cook by tongue.
For me cooking is the ultimate form of expression, I can be completely free in the kitchen. Being able to create something that brings almost immediate satisfaction to those around me is immensely rewarding. When I nail a new “concoction” I can see the joy in the eyes of those partaking.
I have friends who think that the only cooking men are capable of is lighting a fire in the backyard and burning meat. While I do love grilling and smoking bbq, I am equally at home using the oven and stove. I get excited about new kitchen gadgets and tools. I find myself wandering aimlessly through the cooking sections at the local dept store or online.
Now my sons are starting to catch the bug, and I love it! My oldest son, who is 13, loves to surprise us with breakfast occasionally. He is like me when it comes to trying new things and thinking out of the box in the kitchen. He loves bold flavors and spice and isn’t afraid to try new things.
My middle son is more of a traditionalist, he is learning slowly and likes to stick to things he knows. He is not much for venturing into new realms. Prefers sweet to savory and if it looks weird, he isn’t touching it.
My baby boy, while only three already likes exploring in the kitchen. I regularly have to put up the pots and pans that have been drug out for him to cook. Sugar, salt, and flour has been dumped everywhere, but he is catching the culinary bug in his own way.
As my kids grow older, I will strive to encourage them in exploring things that make them happy and stimulate their creativity. Hindering their personal growth because their particular interest doesn’t meet societies gender standards will only lead them to unhappiness. While cooking has rapidly grown acceptance as a “man’s job” other interests remain taboo for men. So no matter what their interest is, I am behind them.
Never be afraid to explore and enjoy your passions. More importantly never discourage anyone, especially your children, from exploring theirs.