Matters of Taste

“Had I but known!” Here’s a little something I realized the other night that might have jump-started my culinary enthusiasm years ago:

When you make a meal,
you get to make it the way YOU like it.

Seriously, did you know this? The person who cooks get to make all the decisions!

Last week, I made one of Mom’s soups –the husband’s favorite and a traditional “Holiday Eve” easy meal at my parent’s house– potato leek with bacon. It was my first attempt making it on my own and necessitated a short series of calls home, both from the grocery store for ingredients and from the kitchen to translate Mom’s verbal directions into an “order of tasks” for the recipe.

I’ll spare you the details (and recipe) for now, because it was just “eh.” Like I said, it was a first solo attempt.

But here’s the thing: While I did follow all the given directions for ingredients and cook time, I wasn’t just making Mom’s soup. I was making Mom’s soup the way I like it, with my remembered preferences from the dozens of little variations each time she makes a pot.

I like a little less bacon than she normally uses. I like the potatoes in smaller, thicker pieces. I like the leeks sliced a little less than the width of my pinkie finger, and I like the potatoes a little firm.

Like most of my sudden insights into “being a grown up” and “keeping house,” I suspect all of this is not shattering news to many people… But because I made the soup myself, I didn’t have to say, “I liked it that time you made the potatoes a little smaller.” I just did it.

I’m going home for a “potato-leek soup training session” with Mom next week. She assures me that in the case of most passed-on family recipes, “it just takes practice.” I’ll help her make the soup, and we’ll figure out where in the technique I slipped up.

But I’ll tell you what: I loved the potatoes in my soup. They were perfectly-sized and not the least bit mushy. Just the way I like it.

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