I Love to celebrate birthdays — for me it’s a wonderful opportunity to cook and share food with friends and family. So when I visited my family over Labor Day Weekend for my mom’s birthday, I immediately offered to cook the birthday dinner — a Peruvian Paella.
My mom, of course, wanted to help and prepare the paella with me — we always have a great time when we cook together, making Peruvian dishes from soups to stews to ceviches, listening to Salsa music, and dancing in her little kitchen. But this time, I asked her to let me cook the dinner, as a gift for her birthday. So with all the ingredients and spices on the counter, the prep bowls lined up, and the pots and pans on the stovetop, I put on some Salsa music, and started to make a shellfish broth.
I am grateful to have learned many things about cooking from my mom, such as how a dish should be prepared or how it should taste. But perhaps the most important thing is knowing when a dish is ready, when it has reached it’s point, or as she says, su punto. And for that all you need is experience and patience. And so, over the next few hours, I diced, julienned, seasoned, boiled, sauteed, and practiced patience until the paella was ready to be garnished and served on the candlelit dinner table.
It made me very happy to cook dinner for my family, and I was delighted that we all had seconds, then thirds, as we raised our wine glasses to toast for my mom’s birthday and then scraped the bottom of the Paella pan to get at the crunchy bits of rice infused with the savory seafood and sofrito. But more than that, it was a real pleasure to cook for my mom, and thank her for all her cooking that made me fall in love with Peruvian food so many years ago.