open to interpretation

even if i have the recipe right in front of me, my cooking skills are not top notch. sure, i can complete the most basic of dishes, but don’t expect me to prepare a full color oil painting type dish. it’s best if you only expect a stick figure meal from me.

sister J and i were tasked with completing christmas dinner while mom, dad, and sister E went out to spread the holiday cheer. this is a multi dish dinner and one we’ve helped mom make over the years. we were floating high with the christmas spirit and figured it’d be no big deal. what we didn’t account for was the absence of mom’s knowledgable eyes watching over us. our cooking efforts rapidly distintigrated.

J: should i err on the side of too many cashews or too few?

me: too many. everyone loves nuts. (TWSS)

meanwhile, me: *stirs vigorously* J, this chocolate sauce isn’t so much a sauce. it’s more of a tar. think i should add more water?

J: yes. no. I DON’T KNOW! help! this cashew butter is just a pile of cashews. it’s too salty.

me: *eyes pot* *tastes* *tongue shrivels from excess salt* i think you should have erred on the side of too few nuts.

our laughter boiled quicker than the sauces. eventually i got the chocolate sauce to thin (too much, of course) and J fixed the cashew butter and the dinner turned out almost as delicious as ever, though we did get a few “i’ve never seen it done this way before.” that’s what happens you leave a project open to someone else’s interpretation.

it’s like reading a book. when you sit down to read, you bring your own life experiences and information with you. when the author wrote that scene about a family dinner, he might have meant it to be a minor scene, one to show the dynamics of the family, but when i read that scene, i flashed back to that one time sister J and i had to take charge in the kitchen. neither of us suspected we’d have to call on all of our culinary knowledge and since said knowledge is rather limited, we laughed to cover the gaps because we were down in the trenches together, family style. i automatically think of family dinners as major scenes, not minor moments.

it’s just like my coworker said, “a book is never complete until it’s read.” and that’s because the author writes the story they intended, but i read the story as it relates to my life and you read the tale as it exists in relation to you and he reads it with his rose tinted glasses and she reads it with a cynical slant and on and on. the most successful stories make us all feel like the story was written exclusively about ourselves.

perhaps THIS is why i read. i’m looking for bits of myself. my definition of self is still evolving and so finding pieces of myself as i relate to the story, to the author, to my surroundings, to my family, to my life helps to solidify my view of me.

so in this post holiday haze, i declare we should all keep reading, keep cooking, keep learning, keep living. they’re all noble pursuits.

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8 Responses to “open to interpretation”

  1. Raquelle Says:

    You raise a lot of good points. Books are definitely open to interpretation. One book can be read many different ways by many different people. I think of Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao in particular. Not many can read it like I can. My Dominican heritage, my knowledge of Trujillo and Dominican history, my fluency in Spanish and my life experience contribute to a very unique reading of the book.

    As far as cooking goes, everyone cooks differently. For example, I am not very patient and do not have the dexterity for delicate operations. Therefore you will not find me icing designs on cookies or making fancy marzipan cakes. My desserts are all broken and rustic looking but delicious.

    • abby mumford Says:

      oh la la! it sounds like both your reading and cooking experiences are very exotic.

      and if you ask me, marzipan has nothing on chocolate. it may lend itself to pretty shapes, but if i had to choose, i’d much rather something taste better than look dashing.

  2. Linda G. Says:

    I agree. Well, except for the cooking part. But I’ll eat what other people cook. ;)

  3. adriana Says:

    sounds like you and J had a lot of fun! it reminds me of how i am in the kitchen when Justin asks me to help him in the kitchen. if he’s not around to answer my constant questions, things get interesting… :)

    i also love your point about books and i absolutely agree! we love books because of how they speak to us and what they teach us about ourselves, not because of what the author was trying to do when they wrote a certain scene.

    what was the cashew butter for? :)

    • abby mumford Says:

      it was one of those sink or swim situations. fortunately, the food swam. or we swam. or umm, yeah, maybe that was a bad analogy. moral of the story: i shouldn’t be allowed alone in the kitchen!

      the cashew butter was for the green bean bundles. YUM.

      and yes, our coworker’s words keep coming back to me because it’s so true. a book isn’t truly a book until it’s read because until then, it’s just the author’s book, not the audiences. and we all know books are attention whores. they want everyone to read them! i’m happy to comply.

  4. Mommy Mac Says:

    Abs, it was almost as fun reading about our adventure as it was living through it! Tons of laughter both times :)

    • abby Says:

      I can confirm that you laughed heartily because I was in the room while you cooked and while you read it. That’s a first I think. I’m not usually around when my posts are being read….good times. Thanks for making everything more fun!

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