It is something once passed down from mother to daughter starting at Sunday meals. It is the lost art of teaching the kids how to cook.
I shared a recipe with a fellow teacher just before the COVID-19 struck and discovered that many of my colleagues here in Hungary who are my age or a little older do not know how to cook at all! In turn neither do their children!
Of course I was surprised because my Hungarian family in Canada has kept those traditions alive teaching me from a very young age how to scramble eggs, making paprikas stews and soups and later more difficult dishes like cabbage rolls, goulash and breaded chicken. My mom had me by her side, observing, stirring, smelling and chopping; through observation and eventually on my own with supervision, I learned to cook! By more so I learned the love of cooking!
From there I wanted to recreate unique dishes, things I tried in restaurants and I would bring them to our table. I learned how important eating healthy was and tried to recreate everyday versions of fancier foods. It became my love langauge, and if I care about someone, generally, I cook for them.
Once my kids came along, it became second nature to allow them to learn by my side too. Angelina and Daniel both know how to cook a few things, yet more recently Angelina has taking over the kitchen at lunch and dinner, and is bringing new dishes into our home. In the image above she is making one of her first meals alone, around the age of 11 or maybe 12. I wish I could remember what she was making, I think a pasta stir fry, either way, the Internet provides these great little recipes for kids from kids, and some of them are really quite good. Angelina energetically tries them, makes lists and goes to the store to buy the exact right ingredients; very remarkable for such a young lady.
The value of understanding that food is something you harvest, is seasonal, and not just a call away from any restaurant, gives children a connection to our planet, and their place in it. For kids to know where their food comes from, farm to plate, can actually help us save the planet in the long run. Children today are so incredibly spoiled given everything and anything at first whim, refusing to eat something because it is not just right and parents appease them and that becomes the norm. I cannot tell you how many kids I know in Hungary that eat pasta, breaded chicken and packaged soup and that’s about it! Oh other than candy and chocolates that is! By empowering children to learn how to cook, there is less waste from children who are aware that an animal died for the meal in front of them, how much work it takes to prepare a meal from start to finish and the cost of food. I understand that children know the price of things, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they know the value of money. An example is how hard does the average person have to work to save enough money to buy an Iphone for example, or how many hours a person has to work to put food on the table for a month. Home economics is a good lesson for the whole family!
Further by teaching children food safety, storage, preparation and how to use the appliances correctly can be a daunting task if you yourself suck at cooking. Over and again I find that children are so incredibly smart, especially those born with devices in hand; they have access to so much information at their fingertips and can figure stuff out super easily.
For me the biggest challenge was to let her make the mess. I resigned to the task of re-cleaning up after the children and making sure that everything is still intact. Children can be hard on utensils, pots and pans, but overall the pros outweigh any of the cons. It is true, the cookware will need replacing, but the endless hours saved in the kitchen so I can work balance the situation perfectly!
And after a hard days work, when I feel so tired and have totally forget about cooking for the family until around 18:00, I climb the stairs and there is my daughter getting everything ready. She lays all the food out in front of her ready to make a meal. She is quite something! After a few years of this, you would expect that her food is very good too! Her curries, her soups, her wraps, her eggs, her sandwiches are better than my own!
I am a proud mamma!
A recipe to try for a family of 4!
- 2tbs butter
- one large onion
- 2 crushed cloves garlic
- 1 grated carrot
- 2 celery sticks chopped fine
- 500g ground beef, pork or turkey
- 500ml sauce or crushed tomatoes
- 250g pasta
Method: Fry the diced onion in two tables of butter on medium low for ten minutes and then add in 2 crushed garlic cloves. Add in a grated carrot, and 2 chopped celery sticks. Add in your 500g ground meat and brown. Next add in your can of stewed tomatoes or favorite store bought sauce and let simmer for 20 minutes.
In a large pot boil water with salt and a drop of oil. Add in 250g pasta of choice and cook for 7-9 minutes according to the box. Drain, do not rinse and add into your sauce and mix together.
Serve immediately with grated cheese on top, and garlic bread!
Notes: add more of less sauce to make it the way you like.