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College graduate, Kitchen Kindergarten

January 30, 2011

Is it easier to recall the number of times you’ve eaten food that WAS prepared in your own kitchen than food that WASN’T?

After undergrad (Happy Sesquicentennial, Vassar!), I didn’t know what to do in the kitchen. What are these schools thinking? Releasing an adult out into the world with no meal plan and virtually no culinary skills is untenable. I’m kinda kidding, but not really. A doctor called Mark Hyman recently wrote a great article about how changes in the way we understand food affect our health and family relationships. When I read the following quote, I knew I had to write about it:

That we need nutritionists and doctors to teach us how to eat is a sad reflection of the state of society. These are things our grandparents knew without thinking twice about them. What foods to eat, how to prepare them, and an understanding of why you should share them in family and community have been embedded in cultural traditions since the dawn of human society. (From “How Eating at Home Can Save Your Life“)

If you know me personally, follow me on twitter, or have perused my archives, you know I’m vegan* and something of a foodie. I love to talk about food, recipes, and farming. I love discovering new vegetables, grains, beans and other edible wonders of the earth. I love to eat and I love to cook…now. A few years ago, that wasn’t the case for a myriad of reasons, mostly: lack of cooking confidence, an ignorance of how to organize my kitchen and what I even needed in it, and a limited awareness of produce options.

I needed a poster like this!


I remember my first attempt at making gravy…burning the flour and ending up with a lumpy gooey mess. I scraped it into the trash immediately to hide the evidence.  And since we’ve come to trust each other over these past couple of months, I can even tell you that I cried! How could I be so educated, yet so food illiterate?

Dr. Mark Hyman urges families to create and stick to family rituals around preparing and eating food. How prepared were you to eat well by your family or educational institutions? Does your family now practice any family rituals around food outside of holidays and special occasions? Do tell!

*Mainly vegan diet, but I love honey. Some folks would take my card for that.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 28, 2011 3:49 pm

    As a child, my family did practice some food rituals, but they centered around the holidays. Growing up, i didnt eat many vegetables or fruits, mainly because most in my family had no idea of how to cook or prepare them. Now that i am older and have my own family, i hope to change that. I want to create healthy food rituals that my daughter can and will share with her children.

    • March 20, 2011 3:20 pm

      For a while, we did too. We ate meals together with my mother and could t have desert until we ate all of our dinner. But, at some point that changed and it kinda went all downhill. We started eating lots of processed foods, microwave meals, and not making much effort to do any it together. I attribute a great deal of it to the demands on my mother’s time as a single-parent with 3 (then 4…5…6 children).

      When I spent time with my father on weekends, we almost always ate together. But, it was just him and me and he’s self-employe health nut, so that was right up his alley. He didn’t make a big deal about it, it’s just the way things were.

    • March 20, 2011 3:22 pm

      Now, we pretty much eat breakfast and (late!) dinners together. Thinking about continuing simple eating rituals for our family makes me realize that we’ll need a dining area, at least! Ah, NYC!

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