(This Was Originally Written In August 2011 and Reproduced By Special Request)
The way I see it, children should be taught basic cooking skills from a very early age—and I do mean all children—boys inclusive.
I grew up in an era when cooking, washing of clothes and even washing of dishes were all coded as ‘girls stuff’. We boys were content to sweep the yard, pick ‘hog meat’, look after the animals and help our parents in farming the few acres of land available at the time.
Any boy who showed an interest in cooking then, was referred to by some not so favourable names.
So here I was, thrust into a totally different world, a complete paradigm shift, as I boarded a flight to St. Lucia to pursue a diploma in Public Health.
Fortunately I found myself in the happy position of being housed with five other individuals. These included Carlylse Hobson from Nevis, a Grenadian and a Dominican. I remember well that first meeting when we collectively decided that everyone will pool a set amount of money every month towards buying the food supply for the month. The girls—sorry, ladies will cook and the men would wash the dishes. What a relief!
Things went well for a time until one day I came home and found the Dominican and the Grenadian ladies ‘going at it’. Something had caused a serious upset in the camp. I did not pay them much mind as I thought it was a ‘women’s thing’ and no real concern of mine. That was until I heard the Dominican lady say in a loud clear voice: “From tonight every man jack gonna cook for themselves’. Suddenly my ears pricked up and the bible text ‘Blessed are the peace makers’, came to mind. I immediately walked over and tried to get them to cool down and make up. I told them about ‘living in harmony and being at peace one with another’. Peace my foot—I was really concerned about where I was going to get my next cooked meal!
‘To make a long story short, we were left on our own. Hobson could cook, so he had no problems. There were no computers and internet then, so I was forced to write an emergency letter to my Mom asking her for ‘recipes’ to cook rice, fry chicken and fish and make a sauce etc.
The return letter took a few weeks to get to St. Lucia. The first few days, I spent my stipend on cooked meals at the Green Parrot Restaurant. As the funds dwindled, it came down to a chicken roti as my main meal for the day.
Then one day the long awaited letter arrived. I waited until everyone else was out of the house and I opened the letter and started to cook a pot of rice—using the instructions and measuring the cups of water, the salt etc.
Well, let’s say that when I looked at the finished product, I am glad that NTV cameras were not around then! However, it was my production ‘sappy’ as the rice looked! Then I fried the chicken and proceeded to make a sauce.
Unfortunately, that is when to my chagrin, Hobson returned home. Instead of proceeding to his room, he seemed in such a shock to see me cooking that he came straight into the kitchen and started to search the cupboards as if he was looking for something but all the while, trying to peep into the frying pan on the stove. When he went one way, I shifted to block him. He went another way, I shifted again. I however forgot that he was taller than me—much taller. He came directly behind me and looked over my shoulder and exclaimed: “What’s that you cooking—soup?” “I am doing a sauce’, I said trying to be cool. “Bwoy you got in too much water!’ he shouted.
‘Is so me like it’ was my immediate retort. He soon left me but that experience has stayed with me for life.
Thank God I think that I can handle myself in the kitchen and I sometimes tell my wife that when there is a traffic congestion close to our home, it normally happens when I am cooking.
However, parents, I am convinced that all of your children should be taught to cook –and that right early. That’s the way I see it. How do you see it?