Sunday, May 12, 2013

Sous Chef

Way before I was nine, my mom had me in the kitchen.
I was her prep cook and cut all the vegetables.
Slicing was one thing but I'd cringe whenever she
asked for carrots to be diced or julienned.
Needless to say, I developed a healthy respect for that
big and heavy, scary kitchen knife.
Would you believe I never once cut myself.
Since I did it every day, I got quite good at it.
A pile of onion slivers gets done chop, chop.
A winter squash and its hard skin is no match when
I'm determinedly wielding my cleaver.
There's beauty in a burdock root when sliced,
especially on the diagonal.
And beauty is easy to find in vegetables like rainbow chard.
 
I never read the book but I'm certain mine was
the original tiger mother.
I'm awfully lucky she was.
 
Happy mother's day.


23 comments:

  1. I have an almost unhealthy obsession with kitchen knives! Sounds as if your mother did a fab job.... My children aren't very good at chopping, but are great at bread making and mixing stuff.
    Must get them chopping soon.

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    1. How fabulous to have someone in the family great at making bread ... drooling at the thought of homemade bread fresh out of the oven!

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  2. I just read an article about how Americans are too careful & overprotective w/our kids. A contrasting example given was a 5 year old European kid whittling away with a knife on a stick. Risks can be good. That's the lesson, apparently.

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    1. Wow, a 5 year old whittling with a knife. But then think I was about 7 or certainly by 8 when I was using a very large knife to cut hard vegetables like carrots into little matchsticks.

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  3. Love this, Tiffany Rose! My son is more interested in cooking than my daughter and he loves to wield a knife too! Lucky you to have such a wonderful mom! Happy Mothers Day!

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    1. Thanks, WMM! They say some of the best cooks are men so why not.

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  4. Haha--also convinced my mom was the original "tiger mother" (she actually just wrote it on my facebook status wishing her a happy Mother's Day). Only now do I recognize her for the total badass that she is. Which is the sign, I suppose, of a good mom.

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    1. Think it may be a tiger mother's tough love!

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  5. my mom had me in the kitchen early, too! and because she resented not having the great family secret recipes of her mother, aunts, grandmothers... she narrated every step she took as she cooked. I found this annoying as an impatient teen, and now, like so many other things, I appreciate her automatic generosity.

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    1. I know I learned a lot by watching my mom and why to this day I rarely use recipes when cooking. I also learned how to pick out good vegetables and how to recognize freshness of meats and fish. That is so important to good cooking.

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  6. Great story - I am very impressed by your knife skills!! I try to get my kids involved in the kitchen whenever there's something simple to do (like mixing) but they are still a bit too young (4 and 2.5) to be wielding a knife.

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    1. Your kids are a little young. Funny thing is I don't remember my mom doing baby steps with me. It was in the kitchen and go wash, peel and cut. But that was a long time ago so maybe my memory started with handling that big old knife.

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  7. You obviously know your way around the cutting board, your veggies are beautiful, sliced to perfection. I started cooking when I was 9 but it was my father who taught me. My mother has perfected a few dishes and otherwise does not cook if at all possible. In my family it was more of me as the tiger child. Driven from day 1 and driving everyone else crazy.

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    1. Haha, a tiger child ... figures. I may have been a tiger child as well, I was certainly a handful. Interesting your father was the cook in the family, what did he teach you to make first?

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    2. I bet you were a tiger child too, and probably haven't let up one bit.

      The first thing my father taught me to cook was bacon but the real first recipe dish was split pea soup cooked slow with a ham bone. I still make it regularly.

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  8. Loved this post Tiffany! I'm envious of your veggie chopping skills. :) My mom was a great cook but for some reason, her passion for it skipped over me. And I'm still wary of sharp kitchen knives.

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    1. Hi ABC, thanks. I was scared to death of that big knife but a sharp knife is actually safer since it can cut without using too much pressure that could cause dull knives to slip and ...

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  9. Love that image of you at nine chopping away next to your mother! I read the Tiger Mother book and i actually liked a lot of things about it. I think the people that criticised her hadn't actually read the book

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    1. I remember by nine I had cooked a multicourse dinner at least once, including all the cleaning up of pots and pans. I could have turned against cooking but I enjoy it to this day. And I actually like cutting vegetables.

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  10. Tiffany Rose, this is my all time favorite post of yours. It reminds me of my childhood, shadowing my mom in the kitchen. Here's to tiger moms. Thank you for this wonderful post.

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    1. Hi Anon. Thanks so much, I'm delighted you enjoyed this post. And yes, here's to tiger moms!

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  11. I didn't know people outside Japan ate burdock root or gobo as it is called here. I often add it to my soup. My husband has knife preferences and won't let me use his because apparently I drag them across the chopping board like knife heathen.

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    1. It's probably not that popular but the organic food store I shop stocks burdock root regularly. I suppose I'd be protective if someone wanted to use my knife but nobody else would since it's scary looking. ;)

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