Growing up a Southern girl, I learned to cook in my mother’s kitchen, as well as those of my many Aunt’s. This learning experience came at a time when there were no microwaves, no fast food outlets to speak of, and no “instant” foods of any kind.The most exotic item we had in the kitchen was an electric mixer and a toaster! While still learning my way around the kitchen, I found myself a young Navy bride, and discovered that I still had a lot to learn!
My first venture into the world outside my hometown landed me in Rota, Spain, where kitchens consisted of a two-burner hot plate, a sink and an icebox. (Yes, an icebox…delivery twice a week). Electricity was iffy at best, and you never knew if it would die in the middle of cooking dinner. Fresh foods had to be sterilized, and water from the tap was never used for cooking or brushing our teeth. We discovered and bought a tiny stove that combined the two-burner hot plate with an oven about the size of today’s toaster ovens! Things in the kitchen improved.
One day, we moved to another apartment which happened to have (wonder of wonders) an upright freezer. My home then became the center of our enclave because everyone’s dinner was stored therein, and each afternoon a parade of my friends came by to get their frozen goods out for cooking later. This was a wonderful time in my life, with friends like I’ve never had before or since. They came from all parts of the country and all walks of life. They introduced me to Italian food, and recipes that had never been made in my mother’s kitchen….some of which I still cook regularly—like meatloaf.