She Taught Me How to Cook

by Reeya Gandhi

Make sure you taste it before you add any more spices. It’s always important to taste the food as you go.

My grandmother took a silver ladle, spooned up a bit of the gravy, tipped it into the palm of her hand and licked it up before she could actually feel how hot it was. She smacked her lips and picked up the jar of salt next to the stove. She poured a small mound into the palm of her hands and scattered it over the gravy. It dissolved like snow trickling into lava. She always knew exactly how much everything needed without measuring it—a skill that had been passed down for generations. She swished the metal ladle balancing on the edge of the pot around in the gravy. The sides of her gold-rimmed glasses fogged up from the steam when she bent a little too far above the pot. A smile creaked at the corners of her lip, and she looked down at me. I was on my tiptoes, my hands pushing my body against the counter as much as it could so I could try to see into the pot. My grandmother scooped up another taste of gravy and blew on it. The steam swiveled at her every push of breath. I got down from my toes and stepped back slightly from the stove.

Be careful, it’s hot.

I nodded and flattened my hand out in front of her. She placed her other hand under mine, cupped them and poured the liquid in. It shimmered like gold. As she had done, I quickly licked up the gravy, my palm turning red from the remnants of its heat. I smacked my lips. My mouth was salivating from the sudden rush of flavor; my tongue coated in the mix of spices. I cleared my throat to keep myself from coughing. My grandmother raised her eyebrows and asked:

How is it?

My smile reflected across the lens of her glasses.  

Reeya Gandhi is a junior at the University of Arkansas double majoring in Social Work and Creative Writing. She one day hopes to open her own private practice in narrative therapy for mental health. She enjoys reading, writing, and baking. Her current favorite poets are Olivia Gatwood and Zaina Alsous, and her favorite novel authors are J. D. Salinger and Agatha Christie.