The Taster Magazine (Nearly) Daily Update: Food Revolution Day
THERE will always be those who insist that You Can’t Tell Me How To Feed My Kids. Throughout history, protesting voices have been raised against the teaching of science, religion, geography, sex education, and even whether lessons ought to be conducted in a language that pupils could understand, as opposed to French or Latin. If a strong tradition of home cooking had managed to survive the ration-books of World War II, those protests might have a point. But — to be blunt — it didn’t. Instead of the Roast Beef of Old England, the thing that impressed most visitors to British shores, postwar, was the terrible and all-permeating scent of boiled-to-death cabbage.
Perhaps I exaggerate. And as Editor of The Taster, and as a parent, I do try to involve my two younglings in the kitchen. But I will be only too pleased to have some hapless teacher shoulder part of the burden. Like many parents, I juggle work and family and it’s often hard to squeeze everything in. The current rule is Sunday mornings are Cooking Time: I cook Sunday Lunch, and the tinies wash vegetables, peel carrots, make pastry and mix cake ingredients. We talk about fats, carbs, protein and vitamins. Lovely and relaxed, yes? What an aspirational family, eh? No. Sunday mornings — or at least, midday until 2.30pm — used to be a lovely respite. For me. The format was: family banned from the kitchen. Recipe books ranged up. Radio 4. Notebook. Glass of wine for Chef, and away I went. But now? It is a long, increasingly fractious period of instruction, clarification, moderation and emergency interventions. I spend a fair amount of time wondering how a child can, with a mere flick of a wooden spoon, propel almost an entire bowl of cake mix flying out on the kitchen floor. Perhaps he’ll grow up to be a champion javelin-hurler. Then again, perhaps he won’t. Either way, after an hour, I’ve had enough; but is an hour a week sufficient to transmit the art of cooking from one generation to the next?
Being a good cook yourself is no guarantee of success. My own mother was an excellent, ambitious cook who prepared French dishes and four-course meals on an almost daily basis. It was all tremendously impressive, and could not possibly have been achieved with children cluttering up the kitchen. So I learned precisely nothing apart from how to set a table; it wasn’t until I reached my late twenties that an appalled boyfriend insisted I try to follow a recipe, rather than just making a sandwich. (I made a lemon pasta by Nigel Slater. It was life-changing. I spent the next six months reading recipe books as if they were novels, often on the tube and train as I commuted to work.)
Jamie’s Food Revolution Day (click and sign his petition) is an attempt to have proper, compulsory practical cookery taught at school. I hope, very much, the project succeeds. Because if anyone at my children’s school wants to go through the hell of teaching an entire classful of tinies how to bake a cake, they will have nothing from me except my gratitude and support.
Here’s Jamie with his own message:
Find more foodie vids on our YouTube channel. Have a great Friday and weekend,