Chef Wars

My husband’s brother married a lady from Nagaland (northeast India thereabouts) many years ago and they have made their home with their children there in the city of Kohima. They have come to the states for a long-overdue visit and we have come up to be with them and my husband’s parents.

My sister-in-law Asanuo is an amazing cook. (She is also one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet!) She has her her own baking business in Kohima, and if you want to see her amazing creations you can check out her Facebook page, Asanuo’s Kitchen, to see some beautiful work.

Here we are on vacation together and we are all trying to share the cooking. I have everyone over to where we are staying and I cook up some boxes of pasta, throw some jars of pasta sauce on them, add some browned hamburger, and voila, supper “à la Esther”. Quick, easy, filling, inexpensive. This is how I cook. Then Asanuo offered to cook. We had chicken with caramelized onions, gravy, pan-roasted asparagus with almonds, rice, and cranberry sauce, with a nice wine on the side.

I am one of those interesting people who has somehow become a worse cook over time instead of a better one. When I first got married, my idea of cooking was to make some boxed mac and cheese, add a can a peas and a can of tuna, and serve it up with pride. My husband taught me how to cook Rice and Beans, Shepherd’s Pie and how to bake homemade bread. I took off from there and became a pretty decent cook. But as the kids multiplied an interesting thing happened. They started expressing their opinion about the food. And after a while it just wasn’t fun to try new recipes because at least half the kids were going to have something to say about it. And even when I let them know that I was not interested in their opinion, and actually, they were not allowed to express anything but positive opinions at the table (they could keep their negative ones to themselves) they would still pull faces or just push the food around their plate. And so my creativity died a slow, drawn out death and I eventually developed a menu that would ensure at least half the kids ate at each meal. But, it kind of took the fun out of cooking. And I will freely confess that my cooking is not very inspired. And maybe it’s not fair to blame it all on the kids, I may have just burned out a bit from doing so much cooking.

That brings us back to cooking for the family. Asanuo is obviously the chef-level cook from the fancy French restaurant type, while I’m more of the short-order cook down at the local fast food place type. I have decided I am not going to feel insecure about this. Instead I’m going to try and figure out how I can buy groceries and let Asanuo be the one that cooks them.

It’s a good plan.


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