Learning Culture in the Kitchen
Do you remember being in the kitchen helping your mom and dad slicing the onions and the chillies to prepare the sambal? Do you recall the amount of effort and time needed to be put in a particular dish from start to finish? And though you had difficulty understanding the instructions and terms used in the kitchen, you still enjoyed it because you spent your time together with your family? Those are the beautiful moments we (at least I) cherish growing up because the kitchen is a place to learn lessons. And as children, even as teenagers or adults, among the things that we will learn in the kitchen would be language, timing, sensory awareness and the quality time together as a family.
Among the many things that we will definitely learn in the kitchen is language. Language is important in order to give out instructions or even understanding labels on the packaged food. I remember learning a lot of different names of spices, ingredients and types of fish while helping my parents out in the kitchen. Mind you, I still might fail to name certain types of spices, ingredients or fish. Getting to express verbally what I wanted is also a direct influence from being in the kitchen. Words like… Is it ready yet?… Can I have a cookie? … What are you cooking? … and more.
This is an essential matter in the kitchen. One minute late, the toast will be burnt, the curry will be too dry, and the top part of the pie will be overcooked in the oven. Timing is key in the kitchen and this is exactly what we will learn in the kitchen when your mom yells out your name saying, “the fish is overcooked!”. Cooking is a good way to learn about timing.
This lesson is crucial for children and the kitchen provides the platform for just that. What better way we can learn or teach young kids about the texture of spices, the thickness of the sauces and the sliminess of the meat than in the kitchen. Other than that, we also can teach children about hand-eye coordination when they mix the batter, frying the chicken, or even cooking the rice.
Of course, the most important thing of all is family quality time together. When we cook in the kitchen together with our family members, we create memories together. The laughter when we make mistakes, the instructions given by our fathers that we couldn’t understand, the moment where we put salt in where they are not supposed to be, the joy of seeing family members eating our food will all be memories cherished and kept dearly in our minds.
*** The author recognizes that the kitchen is not always a safe place for children to be left alone, so please never leave your child in the kitchen unsupervised.
by Ifran bin Yazid