The relationship I had with two women in the kitchen was important to me as a child.
The kitchen was always center. An enchanted hub where magic was created. Like a science laboratory. Gadgets, utensils, supplies. It was busy and intense, yet full of warmth, soft glows and love.
As a child, I noticed the pastimes spent by the genders. The men were off and about, not really gathering in the home. Nor did I see any sharing between them. Unlike the women. They gathered in the kitchen mainly. Chatting, cooking together, laughing and sharing recipes and ideas.
The flicker of light on the gas stove, the old school round fluorescent lighting, the sun shining through the windows, the buzzing round. The excitement displayed by a successful first try on a lemon meringue pie.
I was right there. The taste tester and the recipient of all the goodies prepared by my mother, sisters, cousins and grandmother.
All that Puerto Rican “hoopla” was a reoccurring event in my childhood and imprinted deeply in my mind.
When I think of the men and their activities there were none that left any impression for me. Later on in my life they did go out bowling. “Yabadabadoo!” Yeah, Fred. Hummmm.
My dad? Well, he was distant.
At that time, I could not recall what my father’s passions were.
He was a small yet powerful man. Looking white but Puerto Rican. My mom and her side of the family were much darker.
My mom and dad were small business owners. My dad was a real “tough guy.”
I guess he had to be. Being sort of a IPhone 12 mini, he had to be.
The other side of the gender equation to me were full on, full sized IPhone 20’s! Happy, hopeful, sharing, severely multi tasked and beautiful.
Thinking back, it must have been hard to run your own business. My dad was consumed with being successful. He was under a lot of stress, I am sure.
My cousin, Iris who lived right next door was my perfect role model. Sweet, beautiful, smart, kind and very fit. Later, much later in my life, these attributes would become my personal recipe to Soraya Sobreidad-ism. To the woman I would later become.
My mom was my anchor, she expressed resilience, compassion, caring and artful skills in the kitchen. My cousin Iris was dark skinned. To me she resembles Dian Ross. A version of Ms. Ross that was twenty times more beautiful.
I took the strengths from these two women. My mom was attractive. Yet struggled with the family disease of obesity. . My cousin Iris was fit and stunning. (Have I said that enough?)
Both women were great souls and cooks. Both creative. My cousin Iris had it all, in my little child eyes. She was fully the template and blueprint for me as I matured. Way, way back in my mind.
These women served me in many ways. I was raised in a unpredicatble household. Both parents working and starting their own business. My mom and cousin Iris provided stability to me. Including the delicious experience of cooking. Their recipes and meals provided inspiration and sustenance. It created a sense of safety and strengthened family bonds.
Many, many decades later and in a pandemic filled with doubt and fear, the kitchen is still the safest and best room to shelter in place in. I am now, at 62 years of age and the woman I was meant to be. I suffered from childhood obesity. I am now fit and healthy. I do not use excess food or my cousin “Iris’ ” sensuality in harmful, self-destructive ways. Times are scary. Over consumption of anything will not make this pandemic “magically disappear.”
Food is fun, and nutritional. Even sexy at times.
As a woman, I am sexy and playful but never taking advantage of my health and beauty. Never abusing the magic powers learned in the kitchen by maintaining the cooking and consumption of healthy meals. As well as never abusing the magic, feminine “super powers” I posses with the opposite sex.
Maturity and awareness definitely have its rewards.
At 56 years of age, I decided that my truer North pointed in a different direction that the path learned and followed my entire life. My true “North-ism” is the direction of becoming and being a transgender woman. I was born genetically male.
I am grateful to the positive role models I saw in women. I am thankful for the courage I harnessed to embrace the woman I am. I am certain my mom and cousin Iris would be proud.
I am the woman in me, Soraya Sobreidad.
The Queen of Healthy Latin Cooking.