Home Cooking: the Loss of Culinary Tradition
if we aren’t cookin’ at home, how will they ever learn?
What is tradition?
What comes to mind when I say the word, “tradition?” Fiddler on the Roof, perhaps?
Tradition is a word derived from originally from Latin to mean something that is handed down, given, or bestowed upon someone else. It is the sense that there are things with intrinsic worth and value that the next generation requires or deserves in order to survive, thrive, or enjoy their time on Earth.
We often think of Christmas traditions or family traditions - things that may not be necessary for survival but are still seen as giving us value or an identity. Yet, in a broader sense, there are many other things that we pass down to those coming after us with perhaps even greater consequences.
who said that helping in the kitchen has to mean knives or flames?
give them some soap and water and make clean-up slightly less stressful
What we learned at home
Most of us learned to walk at home.
Most of us learned how to say our first words at home.
Many of us learned how to tie our shoes, brush our teeth, and use a toilet at home.
These are not really things we’d call “traditions” per se, but they do fit the description - they’re all practices we acknowledge are valuable, even necessary, to a long happy life.
Nearly everyone is taught how to eat at home,
but what about cooking?
I’m no historian, but I think it’s safe to say that, for as long as humanity has been eating, men and women, boys and girls, have been preparing food. As each generation learned what was edible and pleasing to the palate, they shared this information with their peers and with their young, creating what we call our “culinary traditions.” We often associate this term with historical, regional, or cultural traditions that represent the flavors and preparations of a particular people group. Again, when you step back and look at humanity as a whole, every culture has always seen the value of teaching the next generation what they know about how to cook.
give them something simple to do
you may be surprised at how much they can help
The demise of culinary tradition
I’m beginning to think we are in a period in human history when one of it’s longest-living traditions is showing signs of decay: people are no longer learning how to prepare food at home. This wouldn’t have even seemed possible just a couple generations ago, but look around you:
Estimates say there are around 750,000 restaurants just in the United States
Restaurant sales approached $750 billion by 2015
Restaurant-to-consumer delivery is up above $16 million in 2019
I haven’t gone into all the research that’s available out there, but based on what I’ve seen and heard, I think it’s clear that (for a number of socioeconomic reasons) fewer and fewer people are preparing food at home. What used to be an occasional treat of going out or ordering in is becoming the normal routine.
Fewer families cooking leads to fewer children experiencing home cooking. These children grow up, move out, and find themselves less comfortable in the kitchen than their predecessors and increasingly dependent upon the food service industry for their daily sustenance.
cookin’ with your kiddos builds their self-esteem, strengthens your relationships, and gives them practical life skills
Why this matters
Traditions come and go. If this is the new norm and people are living with it, why does it matter? Here are the reasons why I want to preserve the tradition of home cooking.
Knowing how to cook is a valuable life skill.
Cooking is a multi-faceted art form: there’s a language to learn, tools to handle, and techniques to practice in order to reach your desired result. Once you have a strong base of knowledge, the possibilities are endless.
Knowing how to cook saves you money.
Every time you go out to eat, or order take-out, or even subscribe to a meal kit service, you are paying someone else to research the recipes, shop for ingredients, prepare the food, and get it to you. Even in the case of meal kit subscriptions, you are paying to have the logistics of the meal handled so you can get straight to the cooking part. Why pay others for what you can do yourself?
Knowing how to cook provides a sense of self-worth and accomplishment.
Life is hard, stressful, and often devoid of wins. Being able to make a simple, delicious meal is an easy win and a great way to boost confidence.
Sharing culinary traditions with young people builds their self-worth and fosters attachment.
As a father (biological, foster, and adoptive), I understand how powerful the act of cooking and eating with your kids helps them to form a stronger relationship with you and lays a foundation of self-worth that is becoming more and more necessary to navigate the murky waters of adolescence.
kids are more likely to eat something they helped to prepare!
What are your next steps?
I want to help you play a role in reversing this trend away for culinary traditions.
In need of something more comprehensive? I have in-person, hands-on kitchen sessions, and I’m in the process of developing some amazing online courses, to help you build your kitchen confidence.
Feel free to leave a comment and let me know how I can support you.