April 17, 2020:

I watched my grandmother cook. In her trailer on Mollison Avenue in El Cajon. It was vile. She threw a cut of meat into a nonstick skillet and left it there, unturned, until it was charred jet black. While boiling canned string beans to mush. Tossed onto a plate: This is food. Eat this.

My mother was the same. It's what she'd learned.

So that I grew up thinking food was disgusting. Avoiding it to the extent it could be arranged short of death.

It wasn't until university that I encountered edible food. One new cuisine at a time I learned that food isn't a horror. It was transformational, not just to my nutrition but to my understanding of the world.

I'm glad I was able to introduce my mother to much of what I'd learned. Summers home from school, she became a restaurant explorer, with a checklist of styles and establishments she wanted to encounter. I loved that. It was one of the very few points of contact we were ever able to establish.

The people you know define your limits. If you're stifled and restricted, get a new crowd. You can circle back to rescue your loved ones, if you still love them.