“Everybody talks about Mother’s Day,” my father would say when I was a kid. “But what about Father’s Day?”
Did I sense jealousy? I’d laugh it off every time he brought up the topic. It’s true. Mother’s Day is all flowers and love and appreciation. Father’s Day, on the other hand, is really not a big deal in comparison. Then again – most men I know would probably vomit (or not know how to react) at the sight of hearts and flowers and grandiose displays of emotion. So there you go.
In the tarot deck, the Empress is the great mother. As number three in the major arcana, she represents the Earth Mother – the archetype of old school femininity and fertility. She is that person who cares for, nurtures and emotionally provides for others.
As a kid, I have incredibly fond memories of coming home from school and trying to figure out what mum had made for dinner based on the glorious scent emanating from the kitchen. My nose was rarely wrong. My senses know what they like. No restaurant even comes close to my mother’s cooking. It would be years till I learned to cook, but my mother’s recipes would linger on my tongue and bring back memories, feelings and a million different indescribable sensations.
Unlike my mother, I am also a big time foodie. I relish indulging my senses. And there are few experiences that come close to cooking a meal, eating it and sharing it with loved ones. It’s been a decade since I left home, but even till today – I feel much more spoilt when someone has taken the effort to cook a meal for me – than when they’ve paid for a ridiculous expensive meal at a restaurant.
There is a saying in my mother tongue Gujarati, ‘Haath ma mithas che‘. There is sweetness in your hand. In my culture, it’s a HUGE and I do mean HUGE compliment when someone says that to you. Two chefs can cook the same recipe and end up with a dish that tastes completely different. You can follow the recipe word for word and still mess it up. There is a certain intuitive understanding and talent that the chef must have to adapt to the ingredients and work that wonderful magic.
In my culture – family recipes are a matter of great pride amongst women. Recipes are tightly guarded secrets that are handed down from generation to generation. Each ‘house’ has its own unique recipe. It was my paternal grandmother who taught my mother how to cook. My mother didn’t teach me – but my taste buds would find their way. Hey – when I gotta eat, I gotta eat. When I have an itch, I tend to scratch it.
Unfortunately, most of my mother’s recipes take ages to recreate. My decision to work and bring home the bacon – as opposed to just cook it – means I don’t have as much time as I’d like to cook all the delicious things I love. My recent stint with vegetarianism brought me back to the kitchen. I started cooking more because I have to. I’ve revived some recipes that I haven’t made in a long time.
It’s been beautiful for me and for those who honour me with their presence sans mobile phone and other electronic devices. Some distractions just don’t belong on the dinner table.
I think the reason why Mother’s Day is such a big deal relative to Father’s Day is because we women do so much work that is unpaid, taken for granted and goes unrecognised. In the workplace, we receive a pay check that assigns a dollar value to our efforts. A mother’s job – on the other hand – is unpaid, undervalued and really difficult to quantify. Her work is priceless.
It was my mother who taught me to love food. She’s also the woman who inspires me each time I find myself in front of a stove – juggling spices and making sure I get all the steps right so I can recreate the magic I felt whenever I sat down and ate one of her meals.
So here’s a big Happy Mother’s Day to all the women out there. Your work means more to us than you will ever know.