Did your dad cook while you were growing up?
My dad did. A lot. Even when he didn’t really know what it was he was supposed to be making…in honor of Father’s Day, I wanted share my memories of the first man I ever cooked with in the kitchen, my father.
My father came to America from India in the late 60s, married an American woman in the early 70s, and raised two American children in the 80s and 90s. I remember when he cooked Indian food because it always made the entire house stink like heavy spices and fryer oil. He would make the puri bread dough from scratch, rolling it into tiny circles like his mother taught him to, and laying them out on newspapers, waiting to be fried, the same papers that would soak up the oil post-fry. The food tasted good, but good lord, the smell!
One of my favorite meals growing up was scrambled eggs, a dish my mother often made for me. I remember one Saturday when my mom had to work and Dad had to take over making the scrambled eggs…I was so unhappy with the results. Mom’s eggs were dry, light and fluffy. Dad’s eggs were mushy, almost undercooked. Two funny things about this–1. I actually grew to like my dad’s eggs, and 2. when I got to culinary school, I saw that he was cooking the eggs correctly all these years, not my mom. Perception can be a funny thing.
My most vivid cooking memory is making pizza with my dad. He would use the Jiffy pizza dough mix, make the dough, and have me help stretch the dough out in the pan using a little orange Tupperware plastic cup rolled in flour. We would open up a can of pizza sauce and spread it all over the dough, and then top it with mozzarella cheese I used to help grate from this giant ball of mozzarella we would buy at the store. I always wanted a plain pizza with cheese, but my dad would do all crazy things to his side of the pizza, like add onions and hot peppers, and man, it always smelled better than my side did. And to think, here he was, an Indian father cooking foreign dishes in a a foreign country for his children. I never realized that while growing up.
Overall, I feel lucky that my father has contributed to my love of cooking and food. He loves food and loves to cook and experiment, and to this day, makes the spiciest chili I have ever eaten. Happy Father’s Day, Dad.