I remember my mom’s kitchen was painted yellow, and it was the place where good food was created and where you could smell the food from a block away. It was also the place where we would gather around the table for a few laughs, where my mom would do my hair, or where we would all eat our dinner. But it was also the place where once as a teenager, I felt so much rage at my dad for acting out in one of his drunken stupors, I lost it and flung a remote control at his head. Luckily, the remote hit the glass in the cabinet and not my dad.
In addition to the walls being yellow, they were often greasy from the fried chicken and fish we cooked in cast iron skillets. The washer and dryer were on one side, the table in the middle, and the stove on the other side. I can see myself standing there as a teenager in that kitchen; feeling so isolated that the only thing I could do was eat. I wanted to cook like my mom, but my mom didn’t want me to cook in the kitchen by myself yet, I was only 12. But I had a taste for pancakes. So I decided one afternoon when I was alone that I would make pancakes on my own.
There were two plastic containers that my mom kept in the cupboard, and I knew that one of them held the pancake mix and the other held some other kind of flour. But only she knew which one was which. I chose the closest container to me and poured a little mix in a bowl along with milk, eggs, and a little oil. I heated some oil in one of the cast iron skillets, and once it was hot, the batter was ready to go in. I poured a little batter into the skillet and made what was supposed to be three round pancakes. I waited for a few minutes to see them turn golden brown. That never happened. What I did see was this white, soggy, deformed shape that resembled a little cake. I turned off the stove and took a spatula and put the “pancakes” in my plate. They just didn’t brown. I got the syrup and put the syrup on the “pancakes” and then took a bite. It did not taste like a pancake.
At that point, I realized that I must have chosen the wrong container and got cake flour down in stead of pancake batter. I immediately threw the little cakes in the garbage and put paper on top to conceal the evidence. I’m not sure if I was trying to conceal the fact that I had been cooking in my mother’s kitchen without permission, or the fact that I just made a fool of myself by making mini-cakes on top of the stove when I was trying to make pancakes.