Jones' View

Friday, June 22, 2007

Learning to cook with Dad

It seems that any time that I call home and talk with my dad, the discussion will start out on work and then quickly move into cooking; on Father's Day it was not different.

It has always been something that we share - recipes, new cooking techniques and other things we found online or discovered while cooking.

Ever since I was young kid, my dad has been the cook of the family, not because my mom couldn't cook, because she a good cook, but because it relaxed him. At first I never understood how timing everything out so that all the food was ready and at the proper time was relaxing but I've come to understand that it is fun.

I had always like cooking but I saw it as more as a necessity than something fun. The first time I had taken on the family duty or preparing supper was during a week when my dad was out on a business trip. He and I sat down over weekend and planned menus and pizza every night was not an option. Recipes where left so that I could see how to make the dishes.

I think that my mom and sisters were a little worried that the 12 year-old kid was going to burn the house down the first night I was left as chef, or they were going to have to resort to ordering pizza.

Neither happened, and I think that everyone was more relaxed about my cooking after that. However my mom did note that I was like my dad in the kitchen; I made a mess of the stove and counters.

Even during high school my friends raved about the food that came from my dad's kitchen, they also loved the rules my dad had that dinner was at 6 and if you were late you had to fight over leftovers (if there were any).

For a summer I worked in an Italian restaurant. I was originally hired as a dish washer but over half the kitchen staff left for another restaurant and they were desperate so I was invited to be a prep cook - who could refuse.

So I started making sauces and the pasta and I was quickly moved up to front line cooking where the cooks prepared the food in front of the restaurant, we would do fire shows and have a good time.

I went back to school, and that's where my cooking career ended.

During Easter, I took my girlfriend home to meet the family and to enjoy a holiday at home. My dad and I took to the kitchen. My girlfriend knew I could cook and figured my dad could cook, but she was still surprised with what came out of the kitchen.

My dad and I have done a lot of projects together and have had the traditional father/son events like playing catch, building things and even fishing. He cheered me on at my events and supported me when I needed his help. I count myself very lucky in that respect.

But having a male figure cooking and doing the grocery shopping has destroyed many classical stereotypes about the role of males in the family for me. Not that it is wrong for a mom to cook but I have learned that both can work in the kitchen and split the house responsibilities differently.

I have even worked with my dad as an engineering intern for two summers. It was fun but there was always added stress on me to be more like my dad. I didn't have the skill or knowledge.

But if people will ask me what I remembered most on Father's Day, it was my dad standing in the kitchen preparing a dish or working a recipe out.

* Reach Jeff Jones at jjones@stormlake pilottribune.com