My father and I were very close, but I did not always get along with my mother, so even though she was a marvelous cook, I had never been interested in learning her cooking secrets. However, after my father’s death, I witnessed my mother’s severe deterioration and overwhelming sadness. Looking for a way to engage her, I had the idea to ask her to teach me how to cook like her. She liked the idea, so we began to cook together. At the beginning she participated eagerly in cooking and telling me stories. Unfortunately, after a short time all she was able to do was to sit nearby and tell me how to create her dishes, but she still looked forward to our cooking sessions. I wrote the recipes down and took pictures of the finished product to share with family and friends.
I am so glad I undertook this project with my mother, it has been such a gift. My cooking abilities grew exponentially as I learned her gifted ways. By immersing myself in Cuban cooking, I realized that the lively flavors of our Cuban food are like the lively sounds of our Cuban music and they reflect our lively, colorful and flavorful culture. I feel as though I have reclaimed a part of my past and gotten a taste of the homeland I left so long ago. It has also increased my hunger for all things Cuban.
Even more importantly, learning how my mother orchestrated these wonderful flavors and dishes, I began to understand the woman and her many gifts. Through cooking together my appreciation for her grew. I realized why feeding everyone was so important to her. Nourishing the body is part of nurturing the soul. Creating meals together, and learning to see eye to eye with my mother, has been an invaluable experience and a heaven sent gift for me. I treasure the experience, especially now that she is no longer with us. To honor her memory I would like to share her recipes in this blog.