Mom’s Recipes

My mother was an excellent cook; she had her own restaurant for about a decade. There were several dishes that I wanted her recipes for: Chicken Cacciatore, her chili, and especially her Potato Soup. My attempts to get these recipes always went something like this:

“Can I get your Potato Soup recipe?”

“Oh sure,” she would say. “It’s really easy.”

“Great! Do you have it written down?”

“No,” she would say with a small frown. “But’s it’s really easy.”

“Okay,” I’d say. Then I’d get my notebook out and wait for the recipe she had memorized.

She would get a far-away look, like she was remembering cooking the soup. “Well, you just boil some water and add chopped up potatoes.”

“How much water? How many potatoes?” I would ask.

“Oh, I don’t know. Until it looks about right,” she answered unhelpfully.

“Okay. I can boil potatoes.”

“Then you add the pasta,” she said, continuing with the recipe.

“When?” I asked stupidly.

“Oh, I don’t know. When the potatoes look about right,” she answered unhelpfully.

“Okay,” I said. “So I add the pasta. When does the cream go in?”

“Oh! Not until you add the spices,” she answered somewhat helpfully.

“What spices?” I asked.

“Oh, I don’t know. Salt and pepper, of course. And a bay leaf. Maybe some Worcestershire sauce. Or paprika.”

“How much?” I would ask, almost giving up.

“Oh, I don’t know. Until it tastes about right.”

“Do you have approximate amounts?” I asked hopefully.

“Not really. But when that’s done, you add the cream,” she said.

I knew not to ask how much cream. Why? Oh, I don’t know.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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