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
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