So…my question for you this week is do you break your spaghetti in half before you cook it or not, and if so, why? My husband and I were fixing supper recently, and he asked if he should break the pasta he was about to cook. Simple question, right? I answered with a resounding “no.” He said OK with a laugh, as this was a routine we go through each time we cook spaghetti. I think it should be cooked whole, he likes it broken. This started the discussion of the aforementioned question…
Why is it that we do some of the (crazy?) things we do? Like many of you I presume, I tend to blame it on my mother! I do things the way she does them (and probably the way my Nana did them before her). Not that she ever said “Vicki, you MUST NOT break the spaghetti before cooking it!” No, she never spoke those words out loud, but over the many years I have cooked with her, I simply accepted that she must be doing it the right way, and I in turn, do it the same (right) way! My husband, by the way, should ask his Mom if she breaks the spaghetti before cooking it; my guess is she does!
Through my nearly 18 years of being in the food business, I have had the opportunity to train many new employees. Invariably, as we discuss different things that need to be done and how to do them, the question is asked…”why do you want me to do it THAT way?” Now if it were my kids asking, the answer would simply be “because I said to do it that way!” With employees, I try to be a little more thoughtful and come up with a “real” reason. I will search back in my mind to come up with logical reason. Sometimes the answer comes right to me, other times I draw a blank!
When I was growing up, I would do what I was told in the kitchen, but I also would watch what was going on. The routine of family life is just that – routine. We frequently do things without ever questioning them, but simply because that is “the way we do it around here!” I remember one Sunday night, I was perhaps 10 or 11, and my mom was under the weather. It was my job that night to clean up after supper, which I’m sure I did very willingly, of course. When the kitchen was clean, without being told to, I put a few eggs on the stove to boil. When my Mom came into the kitchen a little later, her question was simple. “Why are you boiling eggs?” My answer was equally simple. “Because YOU always boil eggs on Sunday night!” Nature or nurture…we learn what we live!
I began this week’s article with a question, and will end it with a task. Over the next few days, as you go through your daily routine, occasionally stop and ask yourself “exactly WHY do I do it that way?” Chances are, if you think back far enough, you can trace the roots back to something you saw someone you love and/or respect do it that way! As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!
Daddy’s Favorite Macaroni Salad
- 1 lb elbow macaroni, cooked according to package directions
- 6 eggs (boiled on Sunday night, of course!) and diced
- 2 stalks celery, sliced thin
- ½ small onion, diced
- ½ red bell pepper, diced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ t celery seed
- 1 ½ – 2 cups Salad dressing (not mayonnaise)
Mix all ingredients together and turn into serving bowl.
Chill completely before serving!
To read more of Vicki McGraw’s commentaries on good cooking, fine recipes and perfect party treats, visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on Join Me in the Kitchen’s own page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.