Posted on | March 8, 2010 | No Comments
30 years ago it would have been ridiculous to even consider that someone didn’t know how to cook. Everyone cooked at home, we learnt from our parents, many recipes had no written instructions or ingredients – they were simply handed down from generation to generation by helping prepare them, we learnt how to cook in school and we studied food. How things have changed – the family dinner is almost obsolete and we now have a problem on our hands where an entire generation doesn’t know how to cook or even know what food is. They are missing a basic & fundamental survival skill to be able to provide and prepare nutritious food for themselves to stay alive.
I am not being over the top. It’s alarming. One of my heros is a Britain chef called Jamie Oliver. He is passionate about promoting awareness of food, the safe manufacturing of food, reducing obesity through healthy eating, improving the quality of food provided to children in canteens and reviving cooking at home and family dinners. He’s recently been in the USA promoting each of these and attended a school in Huntington (an area nominated as the unhealthiest as more than half of the adults are obese and had a high incidence of heart disease and diabetes) He took a variety of vegetables into a classroom and asked the children to name them. Not one of them got any correct. They were getting tomatoes and potatoes confused.
I have actually witnessed this myself in my own group of friends in the last year. I had a dinner party and cooked a Lamb Roast with roast vegetables (potato, pumpkin, kumera) and steamed greens. Towards the end of the dinner, one of the Californian boys had pushed the pumpkin to the side. When I inquired as to why he hadn’t eaten it – his reply was “I don’t even know what that is”. The only pumpkin he’d ever known was in a Pumpkin Pie. (I nearly had to pick my jaw up from the ground)
I completely take for granted fact that I can cook & have an indepth knowledge of food. The situation is very severe in the USA and after observing life in Singapore for 1.5 years now I can say that big problems lie ahead here. Why?
No-body knows how to cook. Most families have helpers in their home that prepare all their meals. A ‘family dinner’ at home still consists of purchased food that is ordered and delivered in a tin container. Most families choose to eat out for family dinners. The most popular choice for food that is eaten daily in Singapore is local hawker buy antibiotics stalls selling cheap food for $3-$5 that unfortunately is very high in fat, carbs and salt.
Singaporeans are fast losing this important survival skill. This is a typical conversation I regularly have in Singapore:
Them: “Wow…. What’s that – what are you eating?”
Me: “This is a turkey & salad pita bread sandwich”
Them: “Wow… did you make that yourself”
Me: “Yes of course – it’s very simple I just cut everything up and put it on the bread”
Them: “Wow…. so you mean you really cut everything up yourself – I can’t believe you can cook like that”
For starters – That’s not cooking! Secondly, making a Turkey & Salad Pita bread sandwich for lunch is how my mother taught me to prepare my own lunch. She taught me to survive. That’s is what she did for me until I was old enough to make my own lunch – then I survived on my own.
We learn our habits and skills at home. That is what parents are for.
So how are we going to right this wrong we’ve created in the world. Simple….. fix it from home. GET COOKING. Take yourself and/or children to the markets and buy food together. Start by preparing at least one meal at home each week. Talk about food for it’s health benefits – not the fact you should just go and buy a $1 Curry puff because it’s cheap.
And then schools should be supporting this learning with Food Education Classes.
So ….. Do You Think You Can Cook? If the answer is no, then there is no better time to start. Trust me – you will make mistakes, you will completely ruin food, it may not be edible at first – but it will improve. I can’t remember the countless phone calls home to my Mum telling her my disasters and finding out how to never do that again! So let’s all get back to basics. Let’s all start to cook!