I am Italian, and I absolutely adore the Italian foods. They are amazing. I usually help my mom when she cooks lasagna or some other Italian recipe, but when she makes it, it comes out way better then mine. Well I'm still learning. =P
What are your thoughts on Italian and/or European dishes?
Glad you asked Salami - I'm teaching myself how to cook, rather late in life at that. What I do when I'm learning something new is to focus and concentrate to the max. I "watch" as carefully as I can exactly what I'm doing. Then I make notes to go with the recipe on how it came out and where I think my techniques were not so good and ideas on how to improve them or questions to ask here. I'll bet your mother is doing a bunch of little things you aren't exactly noticing and remembering. Exact is the word. I doubt she would even know to tell you exactly because she just does it and it seems naturally the only way anyone would.
You have a wonderful opportunity to be in the kitchen with mom - as you know most young ladies would rather be anywhere else, at least that's my impression. Go for it! Maybe pick one other country and explore their food from time to time as you are becoming the best Italian chef around.
One time I really wanted to learn one of my mom's special dishes so I watched her the entire time and wrote down every single item/amount/technique/timing. Helped a lot. Also, my guess is that your mom just shakes spices into her dish. Next time ask how much of each she's putting in.