Yesterday a friend visited and she told me about her daughter taking Culinary Arts in school. I listened with great interest as this friend is not a person who likes to cook, quite honestly I think it is on the bottom of her list of things to do right down there with cleaning toilets. But she talked with great pride about her daughter’s accomplishments.
Even when I was in high school over 30 years ago, few girls in my rural community took Home Ec classes, and boys were unheard of. Students were focused on the college prep route. Already we were preparing for life with a single vision.Yet today I wonder if that was such a wise choice. Cooking is a life skill, but it can be so much more.
Many of us find cooking relaxing. It is something we do with our hands, different than the mental challenges of our job. In a few minutes when cookies come out of the oven or a few hours when that roast chicken is done we can see the fruits of our labors. Our jobs often go days without giving us that sense of accomplishment.
The art of cooking for others is a creative outlet. That drawer of spices is like a pallet of paint just waiting to be explored. The smells of exotic far away places. My husband is this kind of cook. He loves to pull out spices and add a few not found in his recipe. It is an absolute joy to him to make something and be “Ernie’s version.” I must say sometimes the combination is like stripes, polka dots and plaid all in the same dish. Like all creative processes sometimes there is a flop, but we must move forward.
A meal shared is a great time of fellowship. The meal need not be fancy, but dining with others can be a great time for sharing. It brings us together face to face to talk. It gives us time to talk. It gives us time to listen. Too often we wait for that special meal or time to invite friends or family. I think we should do it more often and let the meals be simpler, we don’t need our “Sunday Best” to invite someone to dinner.
I think the school calling their cooking class Culinary Arts class, probably chafes some “chef-types.” I think it is great the kids of today, and the adults of tomorrow will know how to cook. To them Mac & Cheese doesn’t come from a box. It can, but it doesn’t have to. Cookies are made with eggs, flour, butter, and chocolate chips, and there is something special about that dough, that those frozen cookie chunks can’t match. A meal prepared on the range or oven waifs aromas that can’t be matched by a cellophane topped microwave dish. In our hurry up world there will always be a certain amount of fast food, easy food, ready-made microwave meals, but knowing how to cook empowers us to know what should be in those foods, and how they could or should taste.
My hat is off to those schools who still teach a cooking class and the students who take the class.