[My Recipe Book]
Six or seven years ago, I started a little recipe book. At that time, I still lived at my parents’ and hardly ever cooked, except when they were away, and then there would be the obligatory calls to my mother for the recipe to gratin de courgette or quiche lorraine, and how do you cook potatoes again?
I bought a spiral notebook with three sections, and neatly labeled them “Salé”, “Sucré” and “Divers” (savory, sweet and miscellaneous). I then proceeded to ask my mom, once and for all, about her oft-requested recipes and cooking tips. It took a few sessions in the kitchen, with her preparing dinner, and me sitting on a stool, asking questions and taking notes.
I hardly added any recipe to the notebook after that, new ones were filed on my computer or in a clippings file instead, but I always kept it with me, and it really helped when I started to cook in the US and couldn’t call my mother at the drop of a hat. After a while of course, I didn’t even need to open it anymore, because I knew most of those recipes by heart.
Just the other night, I found myself leafing through it again, and found a page I had forgotten about, in the miscellaneous section. I had asked my mother to tell me about the basic ways of cooking some of my favorite vegetables.
About leeks and onions, I wrote :
“Leeks. Cut the whites in 1 cm slices, and cook over low heat, first with a little butter, then with a little water that you add once the butter is absorbed.
Onions. Slice thinly. Then : see Leeks.”
And about zucchini, the instructions go :
“Zucchini. Remove the stems. Slice thinly. Cook in a pan with a little olive oil. Add the zucchini when the oil is hot. Add salt and herbes de Provence and coriander seeds. They are ready when tender.”
Call me emotional, but I was moved almost to tears reading this. Somehow I had forgotten that there ever was a time when I didn’t know how to cook zucchini.