After I graduated from college I moved to a large city and was on my own. As a departing gift, my mother gave me a large red version of her bread bowl so I could make her homemade bread, which she never taught me how to make. When I met my husband Meakin in Houston I could prepare college kid food such as cheese toast, pimento cheese sandwiches and tuna noodle casseroles, but that was about the extent of my cooking skills. Meakin grew up in a gourmet family. His father was an executive in New York City with a three martini lunch kind of expense account and ate in all of the top restaurants in the city. It was a far cry from my cornbread and chicken, and I couldn’t even cook that.
Meakin told me if you can read you can cook. "Give cooking a try," he said, "and if you make something we can’t eat, I’ll take you out." It sounded like a good deal to me.
My first cookbook was With a Jug of Wine by Morrison Wood. It was one of his dad’s favorites. I flipped through the book and chose Chicken Rosemary as my first dish to prepare for my new gourmet boyfriend. It had seven ingredients and I recognized all of them, so it sounded doable to me. Meakin was very pleased with the results. I had prepared my very first successful meal.
Meakin and his Dad had a tremendous influence over my taste in food. I had an adventuresome palate and was willing to give anything a try. As a couple we cooked together. In addition to Meakin, Julia Child, Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey were my teachers. You might say I cut my teeth on such classics as Mastering the Art of French Cooking, The New York Times Cookbook and The New York Times 60-Minute Gourmet. I learned knife skills from black and white drawings in Julia’s cookbooks. The Hoffers ate well. Food and cooking became our combined hobby and our passion. I’ve progressed to winning cooking contests and writing food columns.
How people learned to cook is fascinating to me. I hope you will share your story. I look forward to your comments. Bon appetit.