Victory comes in all shapes and sizes, sometimes even as small as a Lentil bean

Many people would share the sentiment that their mom is the best cook in the world. I happen to think this about my own. Though a picky eater during my early years, many of my childhood memories revolve around a home made meal. It wasn’t until much later that I realized how much work actually went into making a “Pabellon Criollo,” the typical Venezuelan dish. I say this because the Pabellon is composed of four parts 1. saucy shredded beef (30 minute prep time, 60 minute cook time) 2. fluffy white rice (15 minute cook time) 3. savory black beans (60 minute prep time, 60–90 minute cook time), and 4. sweet plantains (5 minute prep time, 1o minute cook time). All I knew back then is that this made for the tastiest and most balanced combination of flavors.

Pabellon Criollo, traditional Venezuelan dish

After developing a deeper appreciation for flavors, and encouraging my palate to be more inclusive, I remember asking my mom how she got to be such a good cook- her response to this question was the age old phrase “practice makes perfect.” She went on to explain that when my dad and her were newlyweds, she barely knew how to boil an egg. After my initial shock I reasoned that she had been “practicing” longer than I had been alive, she had made thousands of meals, and surely, the ones when she first gave cooking a shot were not as good as the ones I had been eating.

Now that I am married and have hopes of starting my own family in the near future, I began my journey in the kitchen. Our day-to-day diet is pretty simple, however, I do have the desire to create connections to my roots for our future children, and because of my own experience, decided food is a great way. Thinking back to some of my favorite comfort food dishes I knew right away I had to start with a savory lentil soup.

Call me crazy, but for some reason the idea of soups had always intimidated me (what if I put too much water? how long should I leave it cooking for? how do I know when it’s ready? Am I the only one that has had these questions?! Can you tell I’m a rookie?!), so I knew this would put me out of my comfort zone just enough to be a challenging start.

I put on some tunes and followed a recipe I found on Pinterest, adding my own personal tweaks and touches. There was one (small) freak out moment when I found myself using my “phone a friend” lifeline (my mom, obviously) telling her that my lentils were looking a bit watery (told you guys too much water was a thing for me). Luckily my dearest mother was able to answer the phone right away, assured me it was ok to drain some water out, and suggested to give it some time because lentils thicken as they continue to cook. I’m glad I listed to her (and my gut) as my first attempt at lentil soup was a success. I can say this with confidence (and not trying to toot my own horn) because they tasted just like my moms’. They tasted like home.

Green Lentil Soup

After a little victory dance, I was true to my generational label and logged on Facebook to share my successful lentil making with the world (aka my 585 friends) in this status:

My activity on Facebook usually consists of sharing inspiring stories about people or videos of songs that I’m currently obsessing with and I actually don’t tend to post many statuses, so I was surprised at the number of likes and comments I received. This is specially true because my friends list includes a diverse mix of family, former classmates and colleagues, representing 6 out of the 7 continents. It inevitably got me thinking; perhaps, at some level, despite what our differences may be, everyone can relate to the fact that life goes quick and it is easier to appreciate what you have accomplished when you take a moment to look back, but it is in the little moments of victory (whatever that may mean for you) that you get that burst of encouragement as you inch closer to becoming the best version of yourself everyday.