Today the Times Magazine had a great article by Michael Pollan, entitled "Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch," about how cooking in America has become a "spectator sport" with the advent of cooking shows and other food-related television programming. And once again, Pollan has succeeded in clearly articulating problems with the American food culture. I will admit, I love this guy. When I read his books and articles, I feel like I imagine the women who read Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique must've felt - refreshed to have someone give voice to so many of the thoughts I have about food.
You should check the article out for yourself, but there were some scary stats on how few Americans actually cook anymore, and a frightening prediction that future generations will have even less desire to cook.
All this got me thinking. There are two major reasons why I want to teach my daughter to cook. One is, there is so much pleasure and nurturing associated with serving and preparing food. The other reason is practical. Although I don't feel compelled to cook for my daughter out of some sort of motherly duty, I do feel compelled to teach her to cook so that some day, she can call up the skill for herself, even if she doesn't choose cooking as a hobby like her mother.
My culinary knowledge has served me well in many different ways throughout my life. As a poor grad student and a young lawyer burdened with staggeringly high school loans I was a bean master-chef, queen of stretching a box of pasta with veggies and cheese. I rarely ate meat, not for health reasons, but because it was too expensive, as were most prepared foods.
And isn't parenting about preparing your kids as best you can for the future? Instilling competence and resilience so that they can roll with life's punches? I'd argue that being able to feed oneself, well, is part of that. And maybe L. will turn out to be a microwavin' maven, but it'll be her decision to spurn her mother's home-spun ways, and not because I didn't teach her the basics along the way.