I am at a boba shop, curled into the corner, taro boba and book by my side. I am reading Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras and finding comfort in the italicized Spanish and descriptions of Colombia. It reminds me of the books I read by Dominican writers, when they’d mix two cultures with the ladle of immigration.
This taro is too sweet.
Last night we made a whole slew of good food. I was tiny master chef. Le beau was my sous chef. He chopped. He peeled. He cut. His cherry tomatoes and Yukon gold potatoes were even, small. He minced the garlic, peeled the onions.
I remembered when, not too long ago, I was him, and my best friend was me. She’d instruct me to peel the potatoes. Wash the salad. Peel the shrimp. And I, who had always been averse to food preparation, who’d long seen food as something I had to eat rather than experience, learned a thing or two.
I learned that romaine came in fat stalks and if you let butter sit on the pan, garlic would add deep fragrance. I learned that shrimp skins were like shrimp jackets you’d have to dig to rip off their backs. I learned that Vietnamese soups had a deep umami back flavor, and to achieve it, you boiled bones overnight. And I learned that making food was part following steps, part intuition.
I never liked baking because I hate following instructions: I’ve grown to love cooking because I can, as I declare loudly over questionable couscous, follow my heart.