Wednesday, November 29, 2017
On October 25, Chris Caretto wrote a Focus on Learning entitled, “The Quiet and the Subtle.” Oddly, the absence of quiet and subtle in my daily life has been deafening. Reading his list of getting back to basics was just what I needed going into this holiday season. As it is a time of feasting, I wanted to focus on his top “back-to-basics” idea—cooking together.
I remember sitting in my father’s classes as a young child. He was a drawing instructor at Santa Monica College and would always ask his students what they thought was the greatest art. After much discussion and debate of visual arts versus music, political science, etc., he would reveal that it was the art of living. One day on a drive home, I asked him what was the second greatest art, to which he replied, “The art of cooking.”
When asked about cultural identity, what defines a person’s heritage is the arts, the music, and the food. Food is also our best hope for finding common ground. No matter how distinct and different our culture, cooking more than almost any other endeavor can be universally appreciated. For example, it is fascinating that chicken tikka masala is the national dish of England.
Great food evolves slowly over much trial and error and requires a sustained recipe to be practiced from generation to generation. Teaching our children at least one family recipe ensures both a connection with our past and gives a foundation of cooking that a child can build upon to become an accomplished cook. This provides both joy and self-reliance, not to mention saving a good deal of money. It also creates a future home environment that promotes community at the table, friendships, and an appreciation of quality ingredients, which can beneficially influence our agricultural industries.
When I think about “The Quiet and the Subtle,” I remember joyfully cooking our evening meals while the kids worked on their homework at the kitchen table. Equating study and food was brilliant. The smells, the sounds of chopping, sautéing and sizzling led to a deep sense of well being for them that I believe attributed to their fantastic study habits and excellent grades to this day!
I hope your family finds time to cook together during this holiday season and that you create with your children delicious memories!