by Fort Nicolas
Cooking, to Flora Mae Tatoy, is freedom.
That realization came to the 22-year-old social worker slowly. The process started when she was eight. She remembered the particular scene well. It is safe to say it is etched indelibly in her mind.
There was her mother gently prodding her unwilling daughter to try her hand in the art of cooking.
“My child,” she remembered her mother telling her with excitement in her voice, “I will teach you something that you will truly appreciate, something you will cherish for life!”
“Sure…” Flor, who is currently working with the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation would tell herself. She just wanted to get it over with.
Yes, she obeyed her mother’s instructions, but under protest. She was rebelling inside, but she did not dare to show it to her beloved mother. However, she was sure she could use the time she had been “wasting” in the kitchen by doing other worthwhile things, such as talking with a friend over the phone.
Nevertheless, she acted like an obedient daughter, cutting the meat the way it should be cut as per the instruction of her mother, boiling the vegetables only this much, removing the scales of a fish this way and that to achieve optimum efficiency, and putting them altogether in a particular order and manner inside the hot pan and adding just the right amount of salt, pepper and other condiments to achieve particular tastes.
For years, it went that way. Flor did not know it at the time, but the joy of cooking was growing on her. She was beginning to like it. In fact, she could feel the excitement and thrill of an upcoming adventure whenever she steps into a kitchen and begin to smell that particular smell of an environment only cooks can appreciate.
It’s a place where she wants to be. It’s the kind of place where she can be free to cook, to create, to experiment and to make mistakes without the threat of punishment. It is the place where she can be free. Indeed, it is where she can experience the sweet taste of freedom.
(Aside from cooking, Flor’s other passion is educating kids. Among her other duties at KKFI is to teach the poor children living inside the Manila North Cemetery [MNC]. If you want to support the this and other KKFI programs, please email at email@example.com.)