Thursday, April 16, 2009

Is Cooking a Lost Art?

I was cooking dinner earlier, between 5 and 6 (we eat at 6) and as is my normal, enjoyable, routine, I poured myself a glass of wine and my daughter-in-law, Diana, who lives with us right now, sat at the kitchen table so we could chit chat. She asked what I was making because it smelled good in the kitchen. It was just meatloaf. Along with a salad and vegetable rice. I had also made my own biscuits and cut up some strawberries for a dessert of strawberry shortcake. All very simple. I call it "Diner Food". This is the type of cooking I grew up on. Diana then started talking about her grandmother's cooking and baking. Her grandma makes the absolute best graham cracker cream pie and cinnamon rolls. I know because she has sent plates of each home with Diana. You have a tendency to just assume that everyone grew up on food like this, but as Diana and I discussed food and cooking, we both realized that this could very well be a dying art. I asked Dee (as we call her) if her mother was taught Grandma's recipes. Her answer was, "Yes, sort of, a little bit". Then I asked her if she was taught by her mother or grandmother? Her answer was, "No". So I told her she better learn so that these wonderful recipes aren't lost forever some day. (And so she can show me!)
I then remember a couple of instances when my boys were young and there were always friends of theirs eating dinner with us. I was reminded of a time back then that I was making strawberry shortcake (a favorite of my family, obviously) and I had invited the visiting friend of that day to stay for dinner. He loved the dessert and said he had never had strawberry shortcake before. How could someone go through 10+ years of life in Western Pennsylvania without every having strawberry shortcake? I couldn't believe it.
That memory brought about another similar memory, still involving friends (brothers) of my son's, again being invited by me to stay for dinner. The home cooked meal that night was roast and real mashed potatoes. A very simple staple in my house. These boys loved the meal and said that their mother never had dinners like that. How is that possible?
So what is going to happen to home cooked dinners and home made desserts as our grandmothers and mothers (and us 50 somethings) pass on? Most grandmothers of that era have already passed on and sometimes old, wrinkled, yellowed recipes are discovered in cupboards or old recipe boxes. But are current working mothers going to take the time to follow these long lost recipes? With each generation I think this possibility lessens. What a shame!
I feel that if there was more home cooking done, there would be more families sitting together for dinner, not to mention how much healthier and happier our children would be. Who knows, maybe if a study were done, it could be determined that a lot of the problems in today's world could be directly or indirectly related to the lack of home cooked meals, lovingly prepared and served. I know cooking isn't everyone's "thing", but I sure feel sorry for those that don't experience it.


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