I would like to tell you that with the years and having children that my grandmother’s cooking skills improved. To an extent, I would say that they have. Now, don’t get my wrong, my grandmother does now know how to cook. The things she really knows how to make, she makes fairly well. But its never advisable for her to branch out from the things she knows. When she does… sometimes its best to sneak some bread and butter rather than actually eating them. My grandfather doesn’t say much about these experiments of her’s. He’ll honestly eat anything you place in a plate in front of him. My aunt and my mother are the ones who are the ones likely to say something about her cooking. My older brother and I just learned to eat it and smile politely but never encourage her to think we like it enough for her to make it again. [We have failed at this, as she sometimes had remade things just on the basis that “los nenes” (the kids = my brothers and myself) liked it so much last time, how could she not make it again?]
Its perhaps a talent to be able to follow recipes and make something spectacular on the first try. It takes intuition and good cooking sense. My mother and I both posses this. We’re not afraid to stray from a recipe on a first try to be sure that its something edible. Its also a talent to be able to just wing it when cooking. My older brother is famous for this but my sis in law would argue that I achieve it with far more success. My mother might not follow recipes, but she does plan things out in advance before cooking. Perhaps even a day or two. My aunt takes a week to plan things out. I plan things out 3 hours in advance and then adjust to what I have on hand. My grandmother tries to do the same but I think there is some absent-minded sort of distraction that happens when she cooks. As ill fated as switching salt for sugar, my grandmother has this terrible propensity to switch things on the basis of their similar appearance. She might have said that she didn’t know at the time the visual difference between sugar and salt… it’s my belief that she might have just thought that because they looked alike, she could make the substitution. This is probably the basis of some of her most outrageously bad recipes.
This brings me to one of the most infamous stories when it comes to my grandmother. She was making dinner one evening for the kids and decided to make pasta. She hadn’t checked the cupboards before starting and realized too late that she didn’t have the right pasta sauce (I would like to think that, but for all I know she might have thought that this was going to work right) and then decided that, because of their similarities in appearance, she was going to use barbecue sauce instead. My grandmother is so sheepish about the ribbing and teasing she gets over this terrible menu that she refuses to tell me how she prepared the dish. I’m left to only speculate as to how she might have tried to serve it. Knowing my grandmother, I honestly believe that she just served it after boiling the pasta and poured the barbecue sauce over it. No doctoring or modifications. She’s just not that type of cook.
My mother and her siblings caught sight of what she was making for dinner and they went on an eating strike.
A literal stike.
I mean, they went out to the garage, made signs and sat outside with them.
When my grandfather came home, he caught sight of his three kids there and inquired as to their being there. Hearing that they had refused to eat, he reprimanded them. If their mother had cooked them dinner than they should have eaten it and been done with it. He then went inside to see what the fuss was about. They tell me that my grandfather went inside for only about 2 minutes and was outside on strike with them.
That was another bread and butter dinner nights, to say the least.