I am fascinated by the process of teaching, mostly (probably) because I’m no good at it. I embody that phrase we all know: “Those who can’t teach do; those who can’t do teach.” I am a do-er, not a teacher.
I think this is why I’e always had such a hard time sharing recipes with guests for meals they loved. I really want to! But I just simply cook, don’t think about following any guidelines, just let my tastebuds lead the way. Sounds whimsical, but it’s true. My culinary instincts are fairly good, but then that one marvelous quality gets in the way of my being able to share what I do. Sometimes I wish I could fly all over the world and recreate meals for all my favorite people.
And then there’s my stepson, Jeff, who was never taught to cook anything beyond Ramen Noodles (which he now knows are completely terrible for you and no longer eats them) or a disturbing concoction he calls Hungry Man Stew, which I’m told contains just about anything meaty/savory/carby that you might have ever considered eating. Pizza? Mashed potatoes? Hot dogs? Spaghetti? Beef stew? Baked beans? Just throw it all together! That’s Hungry Man Stew.
Yeah, not so much.
Jeff has worked alongside us on Lolalita since we first purchased her in 2012. Entrepreneurship is frustrating. Living on a boat is complicated. The entire crewed charter yacht industry is tricky. Being a stepmom can be hard. Put it together, what have you got? Not “Bippity Boppity” you’re a pumpkin, be home before midnight, have fun! No, you get challenges. I’ve been through a whole lot in the short time I’ve been on this Earth, and I think I can say in hindsight that those first few years were some of the hardest I’ve ever experienced.
And then there was a silver lining. Things got easier. Things got happier. Things got FUN. The struggle and strife made the joy of being so deeply bonded to someone worth every ounce of heartache. AND THEN I found myself in an even weirder place: teaching.
Jeff asked me to share with him some kitchen skills – chopping, sautéing, flavoring, plating – and I said absolutely. It was (again) hard at first (one time he chopped up an onion without peeling it, dry skins and all), but I was learning, too. Learning how to teach; learning patience. Learning that not everything has to be perfect (a completely foreign concept to my fierce, idiosyncratic Type-A personality).
Move a year down our timeline, and Jeff is gaining skills. He’s even learning herbs by sight and smell and flavor, and enjoys guessing what ingredients are in final dishes. His questions are more and more intuitive and insightful – he asks me all the time what the nutritional value of different foods are. Like mushrooms. I start rattling off their potential benefits – selenium, vitamin D, iron, did you know they’re considered to be “blood cleansers?” Very cool. But you have to be careful: mushrooms are very absorbent and can hold a lot of flavor if you cook them properly. Mushrooms taste exactly like what you put in with them.
“Oh, so mushrooms are like tattletales.”
*Megan’s Brain Explodes*
Yes. Yes, they are. Mushrooms are absolutely tattletales. They are big, loud, verbose gossips who can’t contain themselves – THEY HAVE TO SHOUT OUT TO THE WORLD EVERYTHING THEY KNOW! What a cool way to look at a simple thing.
I will never – EVER – doubt the joys of teaching, just to look forward to those moments when you find yourself being taught.
By the way – I asked Ernie if my culinary skills were so basic when I first started. He assures me there was a time when I chopped an onion with the skin on, too.
Love you, Puppy-On-Crack.