I remember that once, when I was a little boy, my Ma was cooking a pot roast, and she started by chopping off both ends of the pot roast before putting it into the pot. I asked her, Ma--why did you cut off the ends of the pot roast before putting it in the pot? It seems to me that you cook pot roast differently every time you cook it.

Well, she said, my Ma always cooked pot roast a different way each time. Sometimes she'd cut off one end, sometimes both ends, sometimes neither; sometimes she'd use lots of pepper or garlic or tomatoes or even, one time, mustard, anise seed, and dill. Why did she do that, I asked. Well, you'll just have to ask her, she said. So the next time we went to Grandma's house I asked her why she always cooked the pot roast differently each time.

My Ma, she said, was a terrible cook. Her pot roasts were as tough as leather and dry as toast. I decided that when I had my own kitchen things would be different, so every time I cooked a pot roast, I'd try a little experiment. That's cool, Grandma, I said. Do you still do that when you cook?

Oh don't be silly, she said. I ruined a lot of perfectly good pot roasts with those crazy experiments. One day I finally went out and bought a decent cookbook, and now I make a pretty good pot roast. Maybe I should lend it to your Ma.


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