The Story

Spring Roll Work Area

American People Under Construction

By Lindsay Sterling

In America, you can make your way through life without cooking. My friend, she’s a Warmer Upper. Her meals are hot dogs and other frozen, jarred, or packaged things you heat up. And yet, she was at my house one afternoon for lessons on how to make fresh spring rolls. She saw her lack of cooking (and corresponding lack of cooking skills) as a shortcoming, and one that deprived her of nutrients. Well, we all have our shortcomings, sister. Mine is just the opposite: I cook everything. And because I live a modern American life with way too many things going on, this makes me a Totally Unrealistic Time Manager. I’m frequently up at 11, pissed off at a mountain of pots and pans.

So, as great friends do, we share our differences. She tells me, “Get the frozen Wolfe’s Neck meatballs at the store - they’re great!” And I show her how to cut a head of iceburg into fine strips fast without chopping her fingers. I show her how to pick the cilantro, mint, and basil leaves and stack them in separate piles; how to cook the fine rice noodles (just like regular noodles, only for two minutes), and then how to roll all the ingredients together inside the magic rice paper. She was getting it! After an hour she moved through beginner and was performing advanced spring roll making. Her moves were fluid. Her husband was going to flip at what she’d made. Two hours later, she was a changed woman. Now, my turn: where’s the frozen meatball section?