My mother was an excellent cook and we almost always had home cooked meals. I grew up in a multi-cultural home ( a very interesting mix and sometimes clash of culture of Black American, West Indian, and White). We were used to sharing food with our neighbors and friends, living in Filipino immigrant and predominantly Mexican neighborhoods. My mother made soul food, West Indian food, and classic American dishes. Even now, she can throw together Vietnamese soup or Pansit (a Filipino noodle dish). As a little girl I remember the wide array of dishes, from fried or baked chicken, chicken dumplings, curried goat, salt fish, pilau, beef stews, steaks, boiled crabs, fried fish, bbq ribs, and stir fries. I love cooking. So many of our family celebrations and gatherings involve cooking for birthdays, celebrations, and holidays. Sometimes the meals were impromptu, where my brother would go and pick out live crab from the Asian market and buy some steaks, potatoes, and salad from the grocery store. My brother is a good cook and outside of my grandmother, he makes the best fried chicken ever.
In addition to us both having a sweet tooth, my husband and I share eclectic pallets. And we get to indulge, living in a neighborhood full of wonderful halal restaurants specializing in food from Morocco, Senegal, Lebanon, and America. While the food is good, I find that home cooking is easier on the stomach, as well as the wallet. But sometimes I don’t feel like cooking, my body rebels and my mind shuts down the creative process necessary for composing a master piece. On those days, we can go to Saad’s, Kilimanjaro or Halal Bilal’s. It is tempting to eat out all the time, but I try not to. Since I started teaching full time in October, I don’t have much time to prepare the elaborate dishes I used to make during the week. But I still try to find time to squeeze in some home cooked food. Last year, one of my first friends in Philadelphia, Safiyyah, bought me and my husband a crock pot as a house warming gift. It has given us countless meals that have given us sustenance and comfort. Each time I make a meal using the crockpot, I think of my sister with gratitude. I just wanted to thank her publicly for her warmth, graciousness, and hospitality. Please make du’a for our sister who has helped me and so many others.