LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
“If they wanted 15, they would have asked for 15. They want 8,” she said, and I had to admit she had a point.
It’s also amazing how stressful it is watching someone else use a chef’s knife. As my own hands can attest, cutting oneself is part and parcel of a beginner cook, and God knows I’ve got the scars to prove it. But the idea of her slipping and cutting herself makes me put my fists into my eyes, and I’m constantly fighting the urge not to swoop in and do it myself.
“Need a little help there, sweetie pie, love of my life, oh my god, that was close?”
“NO!” is the vigorous answer.
I’m also constantly tempering my teaching with letting her figure things out on her own. As my husband and all my friends who come for big dinner parties can attest, I’m a bossy cook. I’m not proud of it but when it comes to preparing dinner, I like things the way I like things and that’s that. My biggest fear, though, is being so directive it turns Gabrielle off cooking. So I’m learning to mash my lips together and just watch.
In part, I want her to become a fantastic cook because she has a serious nut allergy, and it’s going to mean restaurants and other people’s dinner parties will always be a little stressful for her to attend. Much easier will it be if she is often the hostess and can control the ingredients.
Selfishly, I also have a vision of her one day, perhaps when she’s in graduate school or medical school or doing something equally fantastic, inviting her dad and I for dinner. We’ll arrive with wine or flowers, and she’ll have her table all set and the kitchen will be steamy with preparation. We’ll watch her deftly navigate the recipes, and maybe she’ll ask me to do some menial task like light the candles or add lemon slices to the water pitcher.