As we near the anniversary of my favorite uncle's passing, I feel the need to pay tribute to one of the greatest gifts he gave me--an unyielding passion for the kitchen and everything it represents.
I had the great fortune of spending a semester abroad in Spain when I was in college, and before I started school, my friend Mary and I spent a week with my family on the east coast of Spain. Although I barely knew them at the time and they didn't have a lot of room or fortune, they shared everything they had--love, passion, and good stories--to make the transition a bit easier.
For those of you who knew my uncle Tavi, you knew that besides having a story (and joke, usually) for everything, he also knew his way around the kitchen. I think my perfectionist personality gave me a tendency toward baking, but my time in his kitchen gave me a new appreciation and fire for cooking. He was hard on me at times, but he helped me let go and enjoy it finally. One time in particular was when learning "Spanish" way of cooking a fried egg (throwing scalding hot oil over the top). I kept getting splashed with hot oil and was complaining (odd, I know) and he looks at me and says, "you wanna cook? Suck it up." Pretty much. I'm not attaining those abuelita hands by wearing oven mitts.
Video of his tutorial in the Spanish kitchen.
So, here's to you, uncle Tavi. Your kitchen lessons often turned into life lessons and for that, I am eternally grateful.