I thought of my mother all day today. I remember how at Christmas she used to get up early, start cooking to get ready for everyone who was visiting us. She’d start cooking the pernil, roast pork, which takes a long time to cook, about 6 hours, or more. She did it Puerto Rican style. Take the roast pork, cut slits into the pork, add garlic, salt, Sazon (Spanish seasoning), pepper and some other spices, put the spices into the slits and, when finished, put into oven. It’s absolutely delicious! When the roast pork comes out of the oven, the skin is very crispy, and the meat is very tender inside. She’d also make rice with gandules (a Spanish pea), pasteles (sort of looks like tamales, but larger. Only made on holidays, takes too long to cook). And my sisters would make potato salad, ham, mashed potatoes and some other things. We never ate as well as during the holidays. Me, I was never invited to cook. Everyone would laugh if I mentioned anything about helping to cook.
I got a reputation for being a bad cook after burning a hamburger in the oven. This is what happened. One day I was home by myself. I got hungary and went to the refrigerator looking for something to eat. The only thing I could find was beef. I took out some beef and made a hamburger patty. I put the hamburger patty on the oven grill, no pan, nothing. I checked the hamburger a few times and the patty seemed to be cooking all right. The third time I opened the oven, the oven was on fire (this was a gas oven). I didn’t know what to do. So I went out into the hallway and cried out that the oven was on fire. A man, about three doors down, heard me screaming and came to my rescue. He ran into the apartment, turned off the oven, and smothered the fire. And then he went over to the window and opened it. Then he asked me, what was I doing? I told him I was cooking a hamburger. He told me that I couldn’t just put a hamburger on the grill. I had to have a pan to catch the grease. After the man left, I went to the window to get some fresh air. I looked down and saw about 30 people looking up into our apartment, all laughing. The word already had gotten out about what I’d done. For about 3 or more years, I had to listen to people ask me if I had started any fires lately. At first it annoyed me, but after a while, I laughed along with them for what I did. So no one would trust me to cook anything. If I volunteered to cook,everyone would start to laugh.
But, anyway, I always think of my mother during the holidays. I really miss her. I hope she has a very Merry Christmas wherever she is. Love you, mom.
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