pride, pernil and precocity

Pernil at Sofrito. Still (c) Alex Lisowski.

So I was keeping an eye on my niece “M” a few weeks ago. She is three, and in constant motion, which has to this point excluded her from a real role in the kitchen. And although my sister was wary, I wanted to make cookies, and I thought we could do it without burning the house down. We got an OK, so I wheeled M to the grocery store in her stroller. She held the bag of chocolate chips above her head, like a heavyweight champion hoisting his belt, all the way home.

To keep her engaged, I tried to keep every step Super Exciting, from measuring the flour– “don’t let me scoop out too much!”– to dropping balls of cookie dough on the sheets. She used her tiny paw to scoop out her own cookie, which we placed on the top-left corner of the sheet. Into the oven it went, and she ran off to watch Jungle Book, with which she is obsessed.

Ten minutes later M was standing at the oven door, begging me to take the tray out. When I did, she demanded her cookie: “Which one is mine?” We sat at the table together and she took a bite.

“This,” she declared with her little lisp, “is the vewy best cookie I have ever eaten!”

I had an identical moment in my own kitchen a few weeks later (about tomato sauce!) and realized my culinary vanity is hereditary. I love that this human instinct– to be so admiring of one’s own creative capacity– is present even in a three-year-old.

Recently my co-producer Alex Lisowski and I shot a segment for about the pernil at Sofrito in midtown. The chef there takes an obvious pride in his work, and I respect him for it. It is a fantastic roast pork shoulder. The recipe is on

Our next piece is slated to air on Tuesday morning on NY1 in the half hour after 8am. Thanks for watching.

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