In Good Taste: 10 things fathers can teach their children about food

Published 5:03 pm Monday, June 19, 2017

The following advice is from a Slow Food USA blog that I’ve filed from 2013. It’s written by a Manhattan-ite father who grew up ordering take out and reheating in microwaves. Now, with his own family, still in New York City, he chooses to raise his children with these 10 food tenets in mind. I hope everyone had a fun and blessed Father’s Day this past Sunday. Enjoy!

Don’t be afraid of the kitchen. It’s not as complex as most cookbooks and TV shows make it out to be.

Grow something. Start simple with an herb in a window box, but dream big. Maybe you’ll have a garden someday. Make that connection from a seed to a meal.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Buy yourself a skillet and keep it seasoned. I didn’t learn about this until I was 30 and – trust me – it really does change the game.

Develop one specialty, something that’s a little different. Maybe it’s pickling or making your own beer, or making bitters and extracts from scratch. You don’t need to be an expert at cooking if you aren’t a chef, but it’s really fun to feel like you’re approaching mastery of one little niche of the culinary world.

Try everything. Don’t like it? Try it again. Still don’t like it? Try it in a year. Tastes develop, and some of my favorite foods now are things I used to hate.

Talk to farmers. Go to farmers markets, visit farms, hey, go work on a farm! There’s nothing more valuable when it comes to food than learning how your meal fits into the long chain from seed to plate. And every meal is different, so this can be an endlessly rewarding experience.

Don’t let gender dictate your food interests. Sons: learn how to bake pastries if that excites you. Daughters: learn how to grill meat.  Archaic gender distinctions can go ahead and die out now.

Learn some meals that you can make in large batches and reheat. When I get busy or stressed, I find it so easy to drop the ball on cooking. That’s where a giant couscous salad or frozen lasagna that you made over the weekend can save you.

Buy a silly apron. Or five. Wear goofy stuff when you cook, and then you can’t take yourself or your cooking too seriously. Cooking shouldn’t have to stress you out.

Have the courage of your convictions. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to make some sort of food commitments (becoming vegetarian; only eating meat that I know was humanely raised and slaughtered; not going to cheap fast food restaurants, the list goes on…) and caved either because I didn’t want to be a nuisance to other people or because I was too darned lazy. Stand up for what you believe in; people will respect that. (This does not include standing up for your right to eat at McDonalds more. Actually, if that’s what you want to stand up for, then go for it. That’s how lively debates get started.)