It's a common happening to read the instructions on a box, a can or a guide. Some are as difficult as flying a kite with no wind, but many are as easy as making instant coffee. On a lot of cans, it says, “Just add water.” That sounds as easy as opening a faucet. However, manufacturers don't trust us, the customers, since they have to make the can the size of the water you are to add.


It's a common happening to read the instructions on a box, a can or a guide. Some are as difficult as flying a kite with no wind, but many are as easy as making instant coffee. On a lot of cans, it says, “Just add water.” That sounds as easy as opening a faucet. However, manufacturers don't trust us, the customers, since they have to make the can the size of the water you are to add.
    In some other instances, they advise, "Do not add water," and you’d better follow those words or you may end up with a soup so watery you could use it as an aquarium. Always follow instructions literally, not mixing the ingredients with a dash of your creativity or something that you believe will add flavor. Remember, in big companies the products and the directions are tested to capacity, so please don't try to make the product better. If you try to overdo the “how” with your own creation, you would be better off tap dancing, roasting a goose or just not eating the product.
     Instructions with fill-in blanks are sometimes confusing. For instance, when looking for a job, there are very complicated questions. One of the first ones I filled in in this country asked for "hobby.”  At the time my English was between C- and a dictionary, but I didn't have a dictionary at that time. So I decided to ask a friend who was by my side the meaning of the word, and she said, "What you like to do." I thought I didn't have enough space to list the things I liked to do, so I wrote, "To have a job now and make a lot of money.” They didn't give me the job. I wonder why.
    I have never been a good cook, but if I was going to make a certain dish, I made it from memory. Since those were just a few times, I always hit the target. But if I tried to follow a written recipe, I had the inspiration of changing this and that, using a bit more of those or none at all. The result: We had to eat out that evening, the place depending on the budget. (I never played games with lunch.)
    When I came from Cuba (yes, a lot of things happened to me with the change of culture and language), we lived in a furnished house including a pressure cooker, I had never seen one before, but I decided to make red beans. I follow the easy steps I remembered: Rinse the beans, and just add water. (That's my kind of recipe!  I didn't know how long they had to be cooked, so one hour later, I decided to open the cooker and check. Beans flew all over the kitchen. I was lucky I didn't suffer any injuries, but I was cleaning beans from floor to ceiling and from the sink to the tops of cabinets. You may add window and doors.
    Another favorite in my cooking days was fruit gelatin. Do you know why? You guessed right: Because I just had to add water. For good cooks, water is a basic ingredient, but only in some cases. For me, water has the force of good rain in a garden, the strength of the sprinklers and the basic and only drink — the natural, transparent liquid — for thirst-quenching. And a big helper in my cookbook (if I ever publish one).
    However, I used to cook a few dishes for my family, some American, some Cuban, none too complicated. And by a coincidence difficult to explain, my best ones had my personal touch by adding water.