I have been one to readily reject the idea of learning how to cook. I grew up in a household where women cooked, and that is all they were to do. They were not a part of the decision-making nor what I felt were integral parts of the family dynamics because they were so busy cooking all the time.
I remember mi mami getting so excited about getting kitchen stuff; so any pots and pans would get her more riled up than if she were to be gifted some perfumes and lotions. And I remember resenting it because I knew that the more things she requested and received for the more kitchen, the further she cemented her place within our household as the cook and only the cook.
I think I resented her because I knew that role was also to fall on my shoulders as I grew older. I saw that my “place,” was assigned for me, and I hated it. Cooking, to me, felt so inferior and so beneath every other role in the household and even within our family. Not only that, but cooking also felt so limiting and a role of servitude that I truly did not want.
I remember when I was old enough to actually be helpful in the kitchen, I began to get assigned kitchen chores as my role. I was 9 or 10 years old, and after-school suddenly my brother could go watch television and I had to go help mi mami cook dinner for when mi papi came home. I remember asking, “y porque Richard no ayuda?” and always receiving the same response: “porque no le pedí a tu hermano, te pedí ayuda a ti.”
So in my rebellion against this act that I felt was forcing me into this role, I would do a poor job. I barely helped and mostly kept quiet and tried everything in my being to not learn anything from mi mami, despite her many efforts. Then, I also remember at age 14, taking a Home Economics course in school, because me and my other best friends were just trying to end up in a class together. And when mi papi found out, he purchased me my first small skillet, with tons of pride. I remember how shiny it was, and that it had a white handle. I felt a sense of anger, because these were the gifts mi mami received and so I knew to mimic her excitement but also knew that I would not continue on this path. So again, I finished that course and pretended like I had not learned anything and insisted on not learning to cook.
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