Calling Mom by Sharon Johnson O’Donnell
The other day I was in the middle of making a recipe that I hadn’t made in quite some time and had a memory lapse about the ingredients. So I picked up the phone and called my mother, known as one of the best Southern cooks in the community. “I have a cooking question,” I told her before I launched into the specific details about cups, half cups, and tablespoons. It had been a while since I’d made a cooking question call to my mother because I’d been sticking to some tried and true recipes in the past few months, not deviating from basic meat and potatoes meals because I’d felt so tired I didn’t have time to deviate — and we’d bought way too many recent meals at fast food places. I’d even memorized the numbers of the combo meals my sons liked.
Thus, it felt odd to call my mother with cooking questions again. I remember when I used to call her my frame of mind was one of “well, she is the experienced cook, and I’ll ask these questions and gradually become a better cook over time by learning from her”. The only problem is that was then, this is now. It hit me the other day that I’m 50 years old! 50! I’m probably not going to become that much of a better cook than I am right now. My hope of gradually coming better and learning from my mother was something that I’d first thought when I had been a young newlywed, calling to find out the secret to making meringue so that I could bake my new husband his favorite pie. That was almost 25 years ago, and I still don’t know how to make meringue! I was 50, calling my mom to find out how to make something. That sounded kind of pathetic.
But, then again, I was 50 calling my 87 year-old mother to ask her cooking questions because she still can cook better than anybody I know and her mind is sharp — and it is a blessing to have her here to call. I’m what they call a lifelong learner, and there’s nothing wrong or pathetic about that. Holiday baking is coming up, and I look forward to the inevitable cooking questions I know lie ahead.