My cooking lessons began when I was seven or eight. I still remember the menu of the first meal I prepared all by myself. Naturally, I attempted to pass this along to my children.
I should add that my parents saw to it that all three of us, including my brother, learn the basics of food preparations. Here are two family stories, with relationship to me left out, about why teaching is important.
The mom received this phone call from her daughter. “Mom, if you felt the urge to call me about fifteen minutes ago I know why. If I could have flipped my phone open and dialed with my toes I would have called you.”
It seems that daughter had read the ingredients list of her favorite frozen pizza and decided to make her own. She had a handy bread machine that had a pizza dough option. She poured the ingredients in, turned it on and when it beeped that it was done she got the dough out… or tried.
When she picked it up there was a long stretch of dough from her hands to the bread machine bowl. When she separated her hands, she had a Y shaped string of dough. She tried to get it off her hands. It didn’t work.
She stood there and thought a few minutes back to cooking lessons that didn’t seem important at the time. “Hm, mom always did something to her hands before she picked up dough… that’s right, she used flour.”
By the time she got the dough off of her hands, out of the bread machine and onto the pizza pan she had a problem. According to the recipe all she should have to do is spread it with her finger tips.
It didn’t work.
She’d activated the gluten in the dough with all the handling and it was now more bread dough than pizza dough. She did eventually get her pizza, and then she started looking at the how of cooking. I understand she is a great cook now.
This is a mom and son conversation. It was the day before Thanksgiving. The son calls his mom and asks when he should take his 23 pound turkey out of the freezer to thaw.
It took me four days to thaw a fifteen pound turkey properly in the fridge. After she got done laughing (no, this is not me, I have daughters) she discussed thawing methods for turkeys. That episode has also not been repeated.
Cooking is a fundamental life skill. There may come a time when opening a can or popping something in the microwave isn’t possible. Being able to take basic ingredients and produce something edible should be taught to everyone, even if they don’t want to learn.
It can also help prevent some serious problems, including obesity. Manufacturers know that we crave salt, fat and sugar. They use a lot of these to make their food taste good. It’s not healthy.
No, you don’t have to become a master chef, but learn how to boil an egg, put together quick bread and cook vegetables. Once you taste real food you might want to learn more.
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