Yesterday I was engrossed with Yes, Chef, the memoir by Marcus Samuelsson about his path to becoming a world-class chef. His affection for food began as a boy in Sweden, adopted with his older sister after their mother died from tuberculosis. After leaving the Swedish formal school system for cooking school, he became immersed in the world of cooking stations, perfection, organization, and meticulous preparation.
"If the ingredients are fresh and prepared with love, they are bound to be satisfying," he writes of his early cooking experiences with his mormor (mother's mother) and of smoking fish with his uncle Torsten. As I prepare food each day, I am reminded of that and of how much of myself goes into what I cook and bake, not just the time I spend with the food preparation, but the thoughts I keep in mind of the people who will eat what I make. Scents remind me of people, places, and events, just as the scent of berbere, the Ethiopian spice mixture his mother must have used, brings this woman he hardly knew back to him.