I do believe that one of the greatest gifts that would be shared from generation to generation is the gift of cooking. Cooking is truly one of the most powerful gifts that a family can share with their child. My mother, my grandmothers and my aunts all gave me the gift of cooking- the act, the joy, the process- gathering, chopping, watching over—and ultimately the sharing of what you have cooked are all a huge part of my life. I am grateful every time I go to cook for this incredible gift.
GATHERING: Lessons of intentionality, work, time, calm, imagining
First there is the act of gathering the items you will need to cook your meal. Whether its’ going to the store or pulling items that are ripe from the garden, a child is a witness to your intentionality, quality, care and thoughtfulness. When in the store, a child will learn to appreciate the time in the fresh foods section. Access to fresh foods is not always something we can say is easily accessible. But even if minimally exposed a child can learn to understand that not all foods come from a drive-up window. A potato doesn’t come out of the earth already fried and in a little cardboard holder. A beautiful onion can become transformed and will seep flavors into all you cook! It’s not like my mother held a class at the market when we went to get fresh vegetables and fruit- it really was about the power of the actual act; the time, the diligence, and the fun it was to when possible, actually pick food from trees, the garden, the bushes.
Not all things you need are in the fresh foods section- there’s the flour and ingredients to bake and cook with. This was an important aisle for our family, especially the polish side of my family. My mother and her sisters were constantly baking and creating. Cheesecake, pastries, dough for perogies- the list goes on and on! Again, no one sat me on a stool and said, “here’s the lesson.” What I saw was work, joy, transformation, patience and sharing.
TRANSFORMING: Lessons of patience, joy, wonder, social interaction, creating
Just think about it – a bunch of ingredients on the counter and with a little chopping, sauteing, stirring, rising- all would be transformed into something you can eat. What a wonder! And it all took time. I can’t recall how many hours I had spent as a child ‘snipping’ the parsley for tabouleh. It was a tremendously tedious task for a child. But of what was shared during that time; stories, laughter, quiet. Now when I ‘snip’ parsley it is almost a meditative act and so comforting. All because I grew up doing it.
My favorite was and is the act and presence of making soup. On so many levels, soup is about life. All in the pot and flavor to your liking. Two or more bowls on the table are preferred for soup.
You bake, boil, simmer or broil and then…
SHARING: Lessons of abundance, gratitude, being present
The table is set (yes, I do believe you should set the table every time you sit down) and there it is- Your Meal. Again, if your child has shared the journey, the simple and sacred ceremony of sitting down together to enjoy makes it all worthwhile. It’s the reflection and satisfaction of creating something that will ultimately nourish your body as well as your soul that we should keep at the forefront of your mind. In this fast-paced and instant world we live in, a time to share over a meal that was cooked in the kitchen is simply precious. What a gift.
I could go on and on about this particular gift as it was and still is a part of our daily lives. I am so fortunate to have married a man who loves to cook. He and I have had such different upbringings, but the act of cooking and believing in the importance of teaching our daughters to cook is something we both had quietly agreed upon since the very beginning. Consequently, the girls are both excellent cooks and appreciate the effort and rewards that come with all that I had shared in this message.
Cooking does not need to be complicated and even if you claim to not be able to cook- you would really benefit spiritually by trying. Try it alongside your child and discover this gift together—even better.
Me? I’m going to go shopping to get the ingredients for a spinach pie—one of my favorite things to make and share!