by Ben Huberman
We all have our semi-secret, less-known personal favorites — a great B-side, an early work by an artist that later became famous, an obscure (but delicious) family recipe. Share one of your unsung heroes with us — how did you discover it? Why has it stayed off everyone’s radar?
My neighbor Mrs. N lived on the right side of our home. We were new in the neighborhood. The first time we met was, when she decided to cross a gap in the hedge between her home, and mine. She rang our bell, and introduced herself. She told me (very self righteously) that she had waited for enough period for me to visit her.
She was a lovely lady with a peach, and cream complexion, and green eyes. An inch, or two taller than me she took me to task for not wearing heels. Soon I was tottering behind her in four inches heels to our Ladies Club, to trips to tailors, and markets.
She was the one to teach me Chinese dishes. You must have noticed, that Chinese dishes vary from country to country. Here in the US, it’s an Americanized versions of the originals.
Another thing I have noticed is, that every cook does the cooking in a different way. If you don’t believe me, ask your friends to make the same dish (don’t tell them). Every dish will have a different flavor.
Leaving aside Chinese dishes, Mrs. N taught me how to tenderize Chickpeas. My Chana Chaat was a mess. The Chickpeas would be hard as rocks. Every time I attempted to make Chana Chaat, it was a disaster.
She taught me what others never revealed. Many people never really gave away their recipes. They only gave a general idea.
The first time I managed to make mouth watering Chana Chaat, it seemed I conquered Mt. Everest. It was one of my (late) husband’s favorite dish. Please bear in mind there weren’t recipes to google at the click of a button, and no tinned Chickpeas readily available.
I was fortunate to have Mrs. N as a neighbor, and her memory will stay ever bright in my heart.