"My mom cooks in a makeshift kitchen in the garage because she doesn't want the smell of simmering onions — the start of most of her dishes — to settle into the walls of our house. Even when there's a foot of snow on the ground, I find her there pulling jars of spices out of mismatched cabinets and stirring stews in a pan she brought from Pakistan when she couldn't find anything big enough to entertain with in the States. That's where she is Sunday morning, preparing curried chickpeas and potatoes plus a sweet halva for brunch. Her father bought these items from the bazaar almost daily during her childhood in Pakistan, but here, my mom, Tahira Ahmed, tells me while stirring cream of wheat into sugar she's caramelized, 'If you want to keep the tradition, you have to work for it.'"
Read the rest of my essay for NPR.org on my mother's cooking and its connection to our culture here.