You’ll know by the taste

Great dish.jpeg

When I was a child, my father taught me cooking by observation. He did not measure anything, but just put stuff (a Papa term) in a pan and stirred. He placed me up on a three-legged stool in front of the stove and, together, we created various concoctions, including the famous Albert Carvallo spaghetti sauce.

Like most little girls, I just wanted to hang out with my Papa and so whatever orders he gave, I tried to obediently follow. I remember asking, “Papa, how do you know how much of each thing to put in?”

He always answered, “You’ll know by the taste, daughter.”

I believed him. That is how I still function in my kitchen.  I experiment a lot but rarely measure or follow recipes. To date I have not sent anyone to the ER, and so I believe Papa’s method is a solid foundation for my own culinary adventures.

When my son Gabe was small, he wanted to hang out with his mother in the kitchen. I let him help and sometimes put him on a three-legged stool to stir various concoctions while I added ingredients. This became a mealtime ritual, especially when producing the not-so-famous Laura Carvallo-Padgett spaghetti sauce. He often asked, “Mama, how do you know how much of each thing to put in?”

I replied, “You will know by the taste, son.”

Today my son is a chef at a five-star restaurant in Colorado. In the early days of his cooking career he sometimes called to ask how to make certain dishes he remembered from childhood and wanted to reproduce for his customers. I gave ingredients, but long ago he had stopped asking how much of each he should include. He knew the answer.

Two days ago I asked my son to share a recipe for one of his soon-to-be-famous Gabriel Carvallo-Tafoya sauces. He wrote the ingredients on a piece of paper. When he handed it to me, I thanked him then furrowed my brows and bit my lower lip.

Before I could ask, Gabe bent his six-foot, two-inch frame down to kiss the top of his five-foot mama’s head. Then he stood up tall, winked and said, “You will know by the taste, Mama.”

Copyright 2015 Laura L. Padgett, Lakewood, Co

All rights reserved

Follow me on Twitter @lauraleepadgett

Check out my first book, “Dolores, Like the River,” available from Westbow Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Family Christian, and all online book retailers



  1. Loved this! I tried to get a chicken and dumpling recipe from my husband’s grandma one time without success. She didn’t use measurements. She really couldn’t remember how much and many of the ingredients. She lived in the hollows of Eastern Kentucky and wow her dumplings were awesome.

    1. Debbie, thanks, My mother’s mother was from Alabama and she could make a fried chicken that would walk off that plate and into your mouth. Mmm. She taught me some good stuff too. You know, I still cook like this. I am thinking about putting a new page on my blog called, “Cookin by the seat of my pants.” What do ya think? Blessings and go get that recipe.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I am not so sure it is talent. Believe me there are many dishes that have been tossed out because well, we just could not eat them. On the other hand, we have created a great many things that we love. Trouble is my hubby will ask if we can have that again and I usually say, “MMMM not sure about that. Never the same twice.” Thanks again.


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