A few typical conversations during the process:
Mother (motioning to a bowl): try this
Me: achaar? (pickle?)
Me: piro? (spicy?)
Mother: no spicy, you don’t like spice
Mother: grab me an onion!
Me (picks one up): yo Nepali maa ke chha? (what is this called in Nepali? )
Mother: pyaaj! pyaaj!
Me (trying to sound it out): peeeaaaazzzz
Mother continuously points to the onion and asks me what it is called in Nepali, and I continuously forget.
Mother (pulls out a spice wheel from the drawer and picks up an aromatic, bright orange spice in a tiny spoon): This is medicine, kills bacteria. What you call this in America?
Me: malaai thahaa chaina (I don’t know)
Mother (motions to table covered in little pieces of cauliflower left over from the chopping board): throw out in dust bin please!
Me (picking up pieces): kahaa? (where?)
Mother (points to the dust bin outside): In English you say “outside”, but in Nepali?
Me: baahira! baahira!
Mother: dhaal (cooked lentil soup) done! Easy! Now rice turn!
Mother: you know, your turn then my turn….
Me: oh! turn!
Mother (giggles): yes, now rice turn.
Mother: I teach you to cook and you take it back to your country saying, “mom I can cook!”
I smile and nod because I know we understand each other.