My father passed away when I was still in high school. I had a complicated relationship with him (more on this later), but I loved him and he loved to cook. He was notorious for his chorizo and eggs. He made a hell of a steak. He peppered ramen noodles perfectly. He was at ease in the kitchen. It seemed there was a lightness about him when he was making a meal.
One of the jobs he held was as a traveling cook. He worked all over the country, preparing meals for large events and professional sports teams, including the Seattle Seahawks. I remember him coming home from these trips with little trinkets for me and my sisters. He enjoyed that job because it paid him to do what he loved — cook. And also afforded him the opportunity to travel. I’m not sure why he stopped working, but up until the day he passed, he told his traveling cook stories. That time in his life left him heavy on the memories, but now I see it also left him aching for what his life could have been.
Whenever me, my wife, or one of my moms cook, the aromas and ingredients bring back memories. Sometimes happy and other times sad. When I’m in the kitchen, it relaxes me. Not unlike my father, there’s also a lightness I feel. I’m chopping, dicing, marinating, boiling, baking, frying — I'm doing it all and I’m in control. There’s a satisfaction that comes along with a well made meal. When I see my children devouring a dish I made and they want more — it feels like I’m doing more than just feeding them. I want them to remember their daddy in the kitchen. When an aroma takes them to a memory, I pray it’s only good ones. I hope they grow to love cooking as much as I do. A few months back, I bought all of us chef coats and had them monogrammed... heavy on the memories.