For most of us we learnt cooking under the supervision of our mothers while growing up. It is only at the age of 13 that I was left alone in the kitchen to prepare everything I was taught for the whole family. The kitchen would be dirty to a point where you assume the family will not eat the food you are busy preparing.
My mother would give me this creepy look and I would just know “the kitchen is dirty”.
She always said if you clean as you go, then you will not have a big job to do afterwards. I still use this time saving tip even today, and it makes it a lot easier to clean up after the meal is finished.
She always told me to keep the sink empty; to rinse dishes when I had finished using them, to wipe spills and throw away any waste.
I enjoyed cooking on Sundays more because she would assist. Preparing salads was an activity to look forward to every Sunday. Sooner or later, the yearning to experiment in the kitchen became second nature.
Samp and beans with curry and vegetables (Picture: Creative Commons)
She also taught me about the importance of tradition in food. Growing up I knew Saturdays I had to cook umngqusho (samp and beans). Even today at home we know Saturdays are for umngqusho-served with chicken, mutton or beef stew.
Now as an adult, I am so grateful to her for demonstrating that cooking is a labour of love. It is not always fun or fancy, instead it is a daily commitment you make because it is important, and you want to care for those you love. Even when there was no money, a very good meal was always ready and appreciated. One other thing I learnt from my mom was how to preserve food; nothing went to waste.