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(by Daniela Paiva)

I come from a long line of fantastic cooks, including great-grandmother, mother, and aunt. New family members have added to the impressive roster. My uncle learned that love and food are intertwined, probably influencing his choice in partners (a Danish architect who became a prize-winning chef in Brazil). My other uncle is a meticulous cook, and my aunt, who is an artist, expresses her boldness through trying different cuisines. In a family so deeply rooted in cooking and hosting meals, I never dared trying to find a spot for myself.

Growing up in Brazil, I was not standing by the stove watching my mum cook. I was born when she was 19 years old. Six years later, she separated from my father, and one year after that, she hooked up with my stepdad, who was not fond of little kids (he softened when my brother was born) and travelled a lot. My mum did it all, and very much alone. There was good food for me to heat up when she was completing her degree in economics, but I was quite independent, figuring out what went into our typical Saturday shrimp stew. Very soon, I started to do my own crazy experiments, taking what was available in the fridge to give a twist to noodles while my mother was immersed in her books.