“Allow me to introduce my Amma, mother. My Love for food and cooking begins with my mom, my first teacher” (Padma Lakshmi, Taste the Nation (2020).
My mom was singularly responsible for my love of food and cooking, of being an adventurous eater, and appreciating the art and craft of cooking. Last year in quarantine I wrote a monograph about mental health in the restaurant industry that included a couple paragraphs about my mom. Gratitude to my brother Matt for doing the Ruby Tuesday blog about our mom and inviting me to share this prose this week.
My mom, an immigrant from Trinidad came to America in the mid-1960s, and was an incredible home cook. At least one of her grandparents came to Trinidad from India, as an indentured laborer; one came from France and was an overseer of a sugar plantation. Another was a shopkeeper who sold his handmade coconut cakes and tamarind balls at the entryway of his small general store, where the family lived upstairs. My father, born and raised in Syracuse, New York, enlisted in the Marine Corps in the spring of 1961, and was stationed in Trinidad shortly after the assassination of JFK in November 1963. He met my mother in September 1964. I have a black and white photograph of one of their early dates, they were seated at a white linen covered table, my mom wore a corsage, my dad, a skinny tie and custom made, slim fit two-piece suit.