What do kids, kitchen, ketchup, and knives have in common? A recipe for disaster! Ha! As true as it sounds, there’s nothing more fun than cooking with kids. The most mundane tasks become exciting as we chop, slice, flip, bake and create something (not necessarily edible :p). Cooking is a blend of art, creativity, imagination, science, maths and lots of mistakes. Yes, mistakes are bound to happen. The flour will be all over the floor. The eggs will miss the bowl by miles. The pancakes will be over cooked (read burnt) and more. But what better place than home and what better time than now to make mistakes and learn from them. So here are 5 reasons each of us should cook with our kids:
Let’s face it. Time is a precious commodity - not just ours, but our kids’ too. From school to tuitions to hobby classes to homework, there’s not much of it left to spend together with family. But here’s my family’s trick...steal away time from tv or iPad and spend it together cooking something. It may be as simple as making a sandwich. But oh! how delicious that sandwich tastes. And the conversations we have and the giggles we share in the process, priceless!
The act of cooking is a class not just in mathematical concepts and scientific concepts but also in history and geography. If it’s pizza you are making, talk about Italy, and why it has been nicknamed “the boot”. Talk about the many different kinds of cheese one can find there or the amazing coffee you get there. Sprinkle in a few Italian words like, “Ciao,” “Grazie,” and “Non-Capisco”. Let your child’s curiosity be kindled.
Each of us has seen cooking shows where top chefs turn ingredients into mouthwatering delicacies. It looks so alluring and we, along with our kids, secretly desire to be able to make food that’s that good. But we know our strengths and we know cooking is not one of them. So we rely on take out. But in catering to our taste buds we are forgetting about the more important aspect - our health. When we make food ourselves we know the exact composition of the food that we are eating.
It is also important to remember that cooking involves all of our senses, we see the deep red of tomato, we smell the aroma of coriander, we touch and feel the softness of dough, and we taste the dish we have made. And the pride that kids feel when serving the food they have helped make is almost tangible.
A kitchen is not just a room with spoons and pans in it. It’s a place where our imagination comes alive. Where cultures meet. Tastes blend. It’s the perfect place to try new things, experiment. And what kid would refuse to turn on the tap of his imagination and run wild with it. The celebrated American Chef Julia Child who introduced America to French Cuisine once said, “The more you know, the more you can create. There's no end to imagination in the kitchen.”
Kitchen is a good place for kids to fail. They can learn to take failure in their stride and try again. Without great failure, there can never be great success. And there’s nothing as insightful as failure. It is the greatest teacher. And what’s more, failure is funny and makes for great story telling. So let kids try. Just keep chanting Samuel Beckett’s noble paradox: “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
The bottom line is cooking can be the catalyst for bringing the whole family together, learning some important life lessons and savouring the fruits of our labour. Go ahead, immerse your child’s senses into the culinary ocean and let her transcend from a picky eater to a connoisseur - one recipe at a time!
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Also read: Tips To Help Your Toddler Finish Meals