Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Taste a memory

Welcome to the November Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids in the Kitchen
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how kids get involved in cooking and feeding. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
If I can leave my children one legacy, it will be that they can cook. It won't be me who teaches them to fix a puncture or start a fire with just sticks. But I will ensure that they graduate from my care able to not only sustain themselves, but thrive with flair and health, woo potential partners and entertain future friends.

For me cooking and good food is my heritage, it runs in my blood, and not to pass this on to my children would be a failure at the most basic level.

One incident crystalised this intention for me, long before I had children of my own. A flatmate I had at University, on her first day alone in her own house, finally a grown up out on her own in the world, came towards me, grasping a potato as though it were an alien life form, and asked, in all seriousness, "how do I cook this?"

Cooking is not a moral imperative - you can survive or thrive on a raw diet, on ready meals, or on a family who cooks for you. But like learning to drive it gives you freedom, like learning to sing, it gives you creative expression.

My children cook with me pretty much every day - cupcakes, cookies, pizza, fruit salad, mushroom soup, bread, popcorn - these are our favourite things to cook - and eat - together. Chopping, mixing, whisking, kneading, rubbing - my children have cooked alongside me since they were old enough to hold a spoon.

I remember like it was yesterday the first thing I cooked all by myself. The crisp juiciness of the apple sprinkled with sugar and the revelation for my seven-year-old self: nutmeg! With its almost citrusy exotic Christmas smell,  its tiny wood shavings snowing down from the mini-grater onto the virginal white apple pieces beneath. I have never eaten it before or since. But it was the taste not only of a new flavour sensation, but of freedom, of creativity, of feeding myself my way.

My son experienced this this summer aged just five. He snuck off one evening whilst we were out in the garden, to make a tray of his very own recipe Rose Lemonade, to serve to the whole family. He then set up a stall outside his room with a hand written "Open/closed" sign and a tray of drinks to "sell". This, I know, will stay with him until adulthood - the taste of a memory, that he created all by himself.
Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon November 8 with all the carnival links.)


  1. This is such a sweet story of memories! It is definitely one of the reasons I invite Kieran into the kitchen with me - to have fun and create memories that he can carry with him forever. Thank you for sharing with us!

  2. Love it! You've helped me recall similar memories too although my dad is a kitchen control freak and so sadly I was that girl who went to uni not knowing how to cook :( The upside of that is that I'm determined it won't happen to my kids...

  3. Oh, thank you Hannah, you've just given me a whole dose of compassion for my dear flatmate to take the place of judgement - love it xx

  4. Lovely, beautiful memories of nutmeg! For me it was making those little golden syrup squiggles into the biscuit dough, I hardly use it now except for Christmas gingerbread!
    Rose lemonade sounds exquisite!

  5. What a wonderful way of looking at this topic. It really helps me see the value of bringing Annabelle into the kitchen with new eyes.

    My mom was a good cook, but didn't really seem to enjoy it. What she did do was show me how to make some of our family recipes when I got a bit older. She would direct and work with me once, then a few days later, tell me to make the same meal for dinner. To this day, I can prepare these few meals without pulling out a recipe book, and I'm glad since I know many of them were made by my great grandmother, and perhaps even her mother years ago.

  6. Enjoyed this post so much Lucy...I just love your writing. You bring the experience so close and make it so real! This post just put a huge smile on my face. :)

  7. So wonderful Lucy! I love your description of the value of cooking ‘like learning to drive it gives you freedom, like learning to sing, it gives you creative expression.’ Also it is an empowering journey into the health of our body.

    I also had many encounters of university students who could barely cook beans on toast – maybe like your other commenter suggested this was as a result of not being allowed in the kitchen which is a shame…I think this hands-on parenting grows with each generation though! I’ve always made my food and now my children are right there alongside me (mostly!). I desire as the kids get older to growing far more of what we eat too. And I look forward to experiences like the ones you shared, where they create dishes for themselves and having that sense of accomplishment, pride and self confidence.

  8. Thanks Terri - loving your input on the blog x

    Thanks Kelly and Melissa - you can't beat family recipes!



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