My mother always says that she’s a good cook because she likes to eat good food. I can’t say I’m a good cook, but I do like good food, and I know that hers is the best I’ve ever had.
What my mother describes as being a ‘simple meal’ is often more elaborate than what most people order in restaurants. Flank steak marinated in lemon and garlic as the main course, shiitake mushrooms in a wine-tomato sauce as a side, and an arugula salad with a homemade balsamic vinaigrette as the fresh green is a meal she just “whips up.”
“It needs salt,” is always the first complaint out of her mouth. Then: “Mmm, this is actually pretty good, if I don’t say so myself.” It is always pretty good, and she usually does say so herself. She gauges the success of her meal based on how many times her diners go back for more; taking only one portion means to her that she has failed miserably as a cook.
“You know what my mother always used to say,” she always warns as she picks up the serving spoon towards the end of the meal.
I know what she is about to say, and I groan. “I’m full, I can’t eat anymore!” I protest.
“She used to say, ‘We won’t have a clear day tomorrow unless we finish all of the food tonight.'”
And suddenly my plate is full again.