Saturday, December 5, 2009

Passing It Along

If you know me, you know that I am a tactile person.  I touch everything to see how it feels.  Most of my experience of the world is not visual.  All of my favorite foods are eaten out of hand, preferable dripping in butter and eaten with those little cocktail forks.  Crab is my favorite food of all time.  I love artichokes, corn on the cob.  Anything I can hold in my hand and get all over myself.

I have a little 5 year old step grand daughter who hangs out with me a lot.  Although there is no genetic connection, I see so much of myself in her.  She headstrong and absolutely without fear.  She is all fight, a little warrior.  And she is very tactile.  Maybe she has seen me smush things in my fingers, but I think there is something inherent in her that comes out in that way.  She not just a toucher; she is a smeller and a taster. 

She sits on a bar stool and watches me cook asking to be allowed to stir and measure and pour.  Every spice or herb I get out, she wants to smell.  She is interested in the difference between baking soda and baking powder, at 5!  I keep a little plate and spoon out so that she can sample things.  She doesn't mind if it is unpleasant.  She just wants the sensation.

I think back to watching my own mother cook and remember that she allowed me tastes and shared with me.  She hand made pasta.  She called it noodles.  They sat on the bread board covered by a towel for hours to dry.  I loved to taste the uncooked noodles.  Now, pasta is flour, egg, salt, and water.  It doesn't taste good raw, but I loved it.  Same with pieces of uncooked pie dough.  Sometimes Mom sprinkled the scraps of pie dough with cinnamon sugar, placed them on a cookie sheet and baked them.  We were allowed to eat them like a cookie.  Not a healthy treat, but we were just as happy to be allowed a piece raw.  Just flour, shortening, and water.  It doesn't taste good, but I still put a piece in my mouth as I finish a pie.

She and I watch the Food Network Channel together, Ina, Paula.  Now, I have absolutely no food show fantasies.  I am not outgoing, a bit socially awkward, and not interested in being the center of attention.  But my little granddaughter has started playing Food Show when we cook.  She'll say, "Now, everybody watch.  You mix it like this and you pour it like this.  But you have to be really really careful so you don't make a mess.  Is everybody watching?" 

It is interesting to watch another generation of food lover in the making and to wonder what impact I am having on her food sensibilities.  What perspective she will have.  What she will remember and think about our time in the kitchen.   

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