Most people that I have talked to have learned how to cook from their mothers or grandmothers. I love my mother to death and although she did cook for me quite often, I have chosen to interview my father about the world of cooking for himself and his family.
My father was always the one who was trying to be creative in the kitchen. He would watch the cooking channel and then try to make his own variation of a dish that he had just learned how to cook. My mother was more of a functional cook. She made simple dishes that were prepared for the purpose of feeding us and not to expand our pallets. I wanted to learn about my fathers cooking background so I asked him a few questions.
I asked my father how he first learned to cook and what types of dishes he normally prepared. He answered, “When I was a boy, all of my mexican family members would come over on Christmas eve to make tamales. The whole family had to help out in preparing the masa and the meat filling. Although it was only a part of cooking, it was my first experience in the kitchen. It wasn’t until I was in college that I learned the secret of never starving. I lived with my Aunt Martha and Uncle Dino, who are very Italian, down in Escondido, Ca. My Uncle Dino told me that when I have no money, like most college students, to buy pasta, garlic, and butter because it would keep for days and it was very filling.”
I realized that making this dish was not exactly difficult to do, but it is useful information for a college student like myself to save money. I also asked my dad what it was like making food for me when I was young. I wanted to know if I was a picky eater or if I was easy to feed.
He answered, “You were a pretty easy kid to feed. There were not too many foods you didn’t like. You hated tomatoes, zucchini, and spinach. Other than that, you mostly liked everything that we gave you. Although, I made you eat the foods you didn’t like anyway because kids don’t get to be picky.” This is a response I kind of expected because I remember my parents making me sit at the table all night until I finished eating what was on my plate.
The next thing I asked my dad about was how his pallet and his cooking style has changed since he’s gotten married and had a family. My dad replied, “Well, in college I was eating a lot of noodles and leftovers which is understandable because I was broke. I didn’t have to change much for your mother. You know how German her family is and how they all like to eat meat and potatoes. It was an easy transition after getting married because I’m a meat and potatoes kind of guy. You weren’t very picky like I said and I made you eat everything anyway (he laughs). The biggest difference between then and now is that now I appreciate more tastes and textures and I have the time to learn how to make more dishes. Over the years of watching family, friends, and the cooking channel, I have built up an arsenal of dishes that I can cook up by memory.”
This lead me to my next question which was, “Do you have a signature dish for any meal of the day?” He replied with, “I love making Cuban roll paninis for lunch. It takes a lot of time and usually I don’t need much for lunch, but it is a sourdough sandwich filled with ham, salami, pickles, mustard, avocado, cheese, and a special sauce which I learned from foodnetwork.com. It is delicious and I know you like them too.” He is right. I do like the Cuban roll very much.
Learning about the history of my dad’s life as a cook from college student to a middle aged family man was very interesting. His cooking experience has been pretty similar to mine so far. At least with the college student eating a bunch of noodles part. I would like to keep cooking with my dad because I learn a lot from him and we always seem to eat really good food.