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Monday, February 4, 2008

Cooking Lessons From My Mother

My mother is a terrific cook, and when she decides to teach someone how to cook, she gets overly enthusiastic. Today, she decided to give me a crash course on how to make fasoolia 7'adra ma3 rouz (green beans stew with rice). When I told her to give me the needed instructions and leave me to experiment on my own, she just looked at me like I was a simpleton. Taking cooking lessons from my mother can be rather...er...intimidating.

She followed me everywhere in the kitchen and watched me with an eagle eye:

Mother: Start cutting the green beans...faster...you are cooking for lunch not dinner. This is how you do it.

She grabbed six beans and cut them all deftly at once.

I sauteed the garlic in the pan.

Mother: Now, you never leave the garlic cooking by itself. You have to stir it in the bottom of the pan, or it will burn.

Me (irritated): I am already doing that!

Mother: Just in case you forget in the future.

I added the meat, and the spices.

Mother: Don't stare at the stove like this. The smart woman takes advantage of the time on her hand.

Me: I prepared the ingredients in advance, and everything else is ready.

Mother: Well, find something to do!

I busied myself with wiping the counters next to the oven.

Mother: Now, the smart woman does not drool over the counters. She keeps any eye on the cooking meal.

I gave up. I added water and tomatoes sauce, and watched it cook.

Mother: Remember, for Chinese dishes, we don't cover the food while it's cooking.

Me (confused): Why are we talking about Chinese dishes?

Mother: Shhh...I am giving you tips for other dishes. You are looking at a walking encyclopedia, so learn from it while you can.

I washed the rice and prepared the other pan to cook it.

Mother (whispering): One of secrets of a successful rice dish is to cook it a bit before adding the water. Thats what makes the rice "mfalfal" (tasting great).

Me (looking around): Why are you whispering?

Mother: Because it's a secret...Ha! Can you smell that? Thats when you know that you can add the water.

My mother is a very soft-spoken person, but during cooking lessons, her pattern of speech can change slightly when she starts losing her patience. Her Jordanian accent becomes heavy.

Mother: Stir the rice gently, please. You don't want to break it while it's raw.

I stirred the rice carefully.

Mother: Shoo had? I did not say "tabtabeih" 3al rouz (pat the rice). 7arkee eidik!( Stir faster!) Halla, I want to show you a cool move to stir the food in a pan.

She grabbed the handle of the pan and magically managed to toss the rice upside down without spilling a grain.

Me (impressed): I am not sure I can do that.

Mother: It is ok, 7abibti. Try it. It is easier than you think. Haik...like flipping pancakes...ta da!

I tried.

Mother: Deeri balek! (careful!)...Ro7tee ma "tokoftee" el akel 3al ard! (You almost spilled the food on the floor!)

1 comment:

Qwaider قويدر said...

Hahahaha Love your mother. :)
SHe's right you know about the "mfalfal" rice.. If you like to know another secret... try this .. cook the rice in bunches.. so the first bunch will get a little browner than the rest. There is one more secret to "falfilling"; allows the rice to get a nice oily layer around it to kibda-steam it on the inside AND keep it from lubbting :) (getting sticky)



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