Everyone belongs in the kitchen: That’s where the food is

“If I make a mess of the kitchen and don’t clean it up, I will never, ever come back here, I swear!” a youngster exclaims and my heart swells with pride and happiness. I think to myself – yes, they finally understand. Cooking and cleaning go together like dunajski zrezek and limona.

Alien place. Alien chemistry

Preparing food with youngsters within the project “Pečeni petki” in ČMC Zalog brought on challenges of exciting sorts. Starting with practical kitchen chemistry in the form of baking powder and ending with Teflon™ struggles. To us adults, the kitchen is just another room, often connected to such pleasantries as brewing morning coffee or taking out the trash. Not much can surprise us there. But to youngsters? What is kitchen to them?

So we went and dived into a two month lasting journey where we cooked, baked, grilled, learned, struggled to clean and laughed.

Ovesni kosmiči? Fuj

“We are making cookies today!” and as soon as the word “cookies” leave my mouth I can see the thrill. “What cookies?” youngsters ask. “Oatmeal cookies. They are traditional in Sweden and Norway.” and as soon as the word “oatmeal” leaves my mouth I watch that burning light of excitement die in their eyes. Oatmeal, carrots, salad, beans or onions are about as popular among youngsters as stepping on legos.

But since we were on this journey together, we discovered that even a carrot cake or oatmeal cookies can be absolutely delicious. All we need is to know how to prepare them. The oatmeal cookies lasted seconds after we pulled them out of the oven. The smell of hot cinnamon, vanilla and butter were stronger than the oatmeal hatred, after all.

But it’s Friday, today we bake!

Fridays became a synonym for kitchen adventure time. Youngsters would come up with their own ideas, being mindful of our limited budget and even coming up with solutions – “Instead of buying pre-made tortillas, we can make them from scratch and save money!”. And once again my heart swelled with happiness. Cooking became a fun activity where together we learn new recipes, techniques and basic rules of the kitchen kingdom. Or republic, if you will.

At the end of the day it’s not about being perfect or precise. It’s about discussing why we don’t use metal on Teflon™, how and why we separate trash or what is the best way to cut onions. It’s also about learning from our own mistakes in a safe place.

Mistake more like missed take

“No, no, we put the whole baking powder in the mug cake. I know, I did it before!” – in a youngster’s world, this is a completely valid statement. And I observe as the mug contents boil over in the microwave. It’s no big deal, we can clean it up. You might’ve guessed the taste of the mug cake wasn’t all that great, either. In fact, it was rather nasty. But those are the life lessons that stick with us forever, aren’t they? This particular youngster is now very careful whenever baking powder is included and asks “Just a little bit, right?”.

What was your first hard lesson learned in the kitchen? Mine were a burned tea towel and a rogue butter that exploded all over the microwave. All while I was home alone. My parents were none the wiser that something had happened while they were at work, but you can probably imagine all the ways it could’ve gone wrong. That’s why projects like Pečeni petki matter. They aren’t just a fun activity to kill time and eat snacks. They present a way to explore, to learn and to make mistakes in a safe environment and to be better prepared for life on your own.

After all, it’s not like only women belong in the kitchen to make you a sandwich. We all belong in the kitchen. It’s where the food is.

Eliška Kolmanová|2021-07-09T15:02:32+02:0009.07.2021|DELAVNICA, HRANA, MLADI ZMAJI ZALOG, PROSTOVOLJSTVO|