To Cook or Not To Cook

BY Larissa Vasquez (@lariluv)

These are a few things I’m not very proud of, some really shameful things that I should probably keep to myself and not shout on the highest peak of the Internet Mountain. The key word being ‘probably’ since I’m about to take a deep breath and reveal a couple of those.

First, my friends refuse to play any type of competitive activity with me. Board games, card games, you name it. If it’s an activity that determines a loser and a winner I am banned from enjoying it with them. Apparently, I have the ability to ruin whatever fun anyone is having by being too competitive and throwing adult tantrums. I become a real life Incredible Hulk. Sweet, fun and reliable until I find myself losing, then my green eyes begin to glow and before I know it I’ve left a destructive path of angry friends.

Once on a flight back to New York from Jamaica with my best girl friends we decided to play a friendly game of phase 10. Everything was going well until I found myself losing. I could feel my blood heating up when one of my friends placed a skip card down and I lost my turn.

Friend: I’m sorry Larissa, it’s the only card I can play.

Me: Are you kidding me?! Don’t talk to me or I’m going to punch you in the face

I’ve never been in a fight but in that moment no one could tell me I couldn’t take my friend down. Who cares that she’s almost 6’3 and I’m…not. You’re probably reading this and shaking your head. I don’t blame you. It was a full-blown adult tantrum. I’m doing the same.

On to my second and most shameful secret.

When I was 15 my mom asked me to keep an eyes on dinner while she stepped out for a few minutes. My job was to add salt to a boiling pot of beans on the stove. I looked at two identical containers in front of me. I grabbed one and added a pinch of salt and was impressed with myself except for one minor thing. The salt turned out to be sugar. My mother, not amused, gave me a lecture about ruining dinner for everyone. This was the start of my battle with cooking.

Not one to back out of a challenge I later got the courage to make mashed potatoes from scratch. I peeled the potatoes and placed them in a pan to boil. Easy. I walked into my living room, turned on the TV and was mesmerized by the sight of Jonathan Taylor Thomas. I was so enthralled with the television that I did not realize when the entire apartment was inundated in a haze. The smoke was so thick that I crawled from the living room into the kitchen remembering everything I’ve ever learned about fire safety. Coughing, I turned off the stove. Suddenly, I remembered my sister was in the bedroom and I crawled to save her. Lying on the floor I knocked on the door. I heard her voice getting louder as she approached the door. With the telephone in her left hand she looked through the smoke and then down at me lying on the wooden floor.

“I’m sorry, I’m gonna have to call you back. My sister is burning down the house”

Things haven’t gotten easier in my twenties. A couple of years ago, attempting to do something nice for my roommates, I decided to make pasta. The pasta turned out so salty it was like taking a bite out of the ocean. The next day she had to explain to her doctor that she didn’t suddenly develop high blood pressure.

“No, my roommate made some extra salty pasta last night. I’m sure it will go back to normal.”

Why am I talking about this? Growing up my mom always said that if you can’t cook no one would marry you. The moment someone made an edible meal you’d hear “te puedes casar.” I’ve always wondered if all Latina girls grow up training to be Suzie Homemaker. If you’re not then are you destined for a life of spinsterhood with your 28 cats? I certainly hope not. Given my track record I’m not even qualified to fend for myself. This year I plan on cooking a lot more. I just moved to my own apartment and after Christmas I just can’t afford to order out these days. I want to learn to cook not because I want a husband but because I refuse to let the kitchen break me down. If all else fails, I’ll just send positive vibes to the universe that eventually I’ll end up with a man who loves to cook. Those exist, right? Besides, mothers aren’t always right. I hope.

Also, Check out more awesomeness from Larissa Vasquez below.

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  • Eliana
    January 4, 2012 at 11:19 am

    I have burned tons of pots of rice and oversalted like there is no tomorrow. The trick is though, to learn and jump back on the saddle. I consider myself to be an awesome cook but it’s something that definitely took it’s time to develop. As long as you are committed it will come to you. And then there will be no stopping you, as few things are better than a home cooked meal made by YOU. Happy Cooking 🙂

  • The Jaded NYer
    January 4, 2012 at 11:48 am

    We were groomed to be homemakers, at least in my house. And when my sister was born I sort of had to take over with the household duties, including cooking.

    You’ll learn; it’s not that hard. And I mean, you gotta eat! Men these days are still depending on their moms to wash their drawz so you can’t put your hopes in finding one that can cook LOL

  • Sujeiry
    January 4, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    The first time I cooked I was 16 years old and my mom was in the Domincan Republic. I cooked steak for my brother and I, or at least attempted to. Apparently, you’re not supposed to add an entire bottle of oregano! He thought I was trying to kill him lol.

    So, you are not alone. This Dominicana has gotten better in the kitchen but I am no Martita Estuart! Lol.

  • Eileen
    January 4, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    I burned, undercooked, overspiced many meals before getting to where I’m at now… fast forward to now and I can’t get out of the kitchen. I LOVE cooking. I wish you well on your journey!!!

  • Melissa
    February 1, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    This reminds me of the time when I was about 13 or 14, I decided to make muffins from scratch. However, instead of using baking powder I added baking soda, which made them horrifically salty! No one in my family would eat them of course. Trying to salvage the moment, I brought them outside and crumbled them onto the street for the birds to eat. They wouldn’t touch them either!! From then on, I was known as the terrible cook in my family. It literally took me years to get over that and try to cook again when I was in college. Now, a decade+ later, I consider myself a really great cook!! So, don’t give up Larissa!! 🙂

  • Aliza Hausman
    June 6, 2012 at 10:57 pm

    Despite my mother’s comments that I would never get married because I wasn’t good at being Martha Stewart or Suzie Homemaker (in fact, I have been cooking since I was 8, I only burnt down one microwave) with the cooking, cleaning and fawning over my husband, I did get married. I just refused to marry someone who couldn’t cook, clean and equally fawn over me, you know? My Dominican relatives are in shock that my husband ever cooks (Dominican food, too) or cleans. It is a foreign concept to them whether they live here in America or still on the island.

  • Aliza Hausman
    June 6, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    My mother on child raising: “I had 3 daughters so I could never cook, clean or do any housework again.” And she didn’t, even if we did it poorly. My sister IS Susie Homemaker but her husband lets her do all th cooking while he does all the cleaning.