I remember being out for dinner with some friends and my boyfriend at the time. We hadn’t been dating long. Someone asked him if I was a good cook and he hesitated. I thought, no he didn’t! Not only had I cooked for him several times, he had experienced my killer diller dinner! The one meal that causes anyone who’s ever had it to curl their toes. Also, I’m known to be a pretty good cook.
What he said was that I can cook, but I use recipes a lot. Yeah, and what’s wrong with that, I thought, with a bit of steam coming out of my ears. He went on to explain that he thinks good cooks don’t need recipes, they just have a feel for food. They intuitively know what flavours work well together.
Needless-to-say, he fancied himself a good cook. I would agree if that means putting lots of garlic in everything … did I say that? The truth is that because he’s an adventurous cook, who’s willing to make mistakes, sometimes his dishes were disasters, but other times they where pretty amazing! Learning to cook like a Jamaican has reinforced that lesson for me. That’s because my mother no longer needs to think about the Jamaican dishes that she makes. It’s all from the heart.
Having to write down her recipes now for this website she’s realizing how much she improvises, especially when making her savory dishes … baking, not so much. I think when you make any one of her recipes as written you’ll find them to be really good. But, like my ex-boyfriend, I do encourage you to get personal. For instance, if you like things hot and spicy then add more pepper sauce … just remember to add a little at a time and taste, taste, taste along the way. The same goes for salt, etc.
In case you were wondering, the photo above is of my Quinoa Salad. Nope, it’s not Jamaican, but it’s my recipe. Each time I make it it’s never the same. I create it with what’s in season and flavours I think will work well together … and it’s always a hit! Lesson learned.