How to Involve Children in the Kitchen
Most children tend to initially eat what they want from the selection their mothers bring to the table. With time they develop preference of one cereal over others. As kids grow, they make friends and are exposed to food items from other homes. You might be bringing up your child with healthy options but in school he will see the hastily made sandwich with white bread and begin to like that more your healthier options.
Even if children would not get excited about accompanying you to the local vegetable and fruit market, if they see something totally new like shiitake mushrooms or dragon fruit, they would be curious to know how to deal with it. Just be careful and not make it a format of a classroom but allow them to discover it as a natural course of action. Or ask them to search for the details on the Net. It will allow you to enter their world on their terms.
Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Mediterranean and other styles of cuisine are getting increasingly popular in India. Stand-alone restaurants and outlets in five-star hotels ensure that you can sample authentic foods from these countries without stepping outside India. Why limit the experience of young children to only pizza and pasta when there is so much more to Italian cuisine? Allow them to discover different options including how to cook it all. You might be pleasantly surprised at the choices your children make.
Exotic vegetables and fruits:
Avocados, artichokes, celery, zucchini, red cabbage, fennel, pak chai different colour peppers and baby-sized items in vegetables were not to be seen a few years ago but now are available in smaller outlets as well. Even the door-to-door seller has begun to keep broccoli, even though he calls it green cauliflower!
Similarly, in the segment of fruits, we now have rambutans, dragon fruit, international varieties of melons and mangosteen fighting for space with our domestic fruits. Allow the children to try and decide for themselves if they like these fruits and vegetables.
Ask children to help: Most children complain that their parents heap work on them. But what if you ask for help rather than tell them what they must do? No child is happy to clean up kitchen work but what if you ask them to label your condiments in the kitchen?
Do not presume that just because your child is a male he is not interested in the kitchen. Research has proved that cooking is almost therapeutic in that it is a stress buster. Most of the world-renowned chefs are men and most importantly the way lifestyle is going for urban dwellers in India, to know how to cook will be an added advantage for any man.
Allow them indulgence: If your child wants to learn how to make a particular dish that asks for expensive ingredients, by all means test their conviction by putting across simpler exercises. Nobody can make oyster sauce or miso soup without first learning how to make humble noodles or boiling the sticky rice in the first place. But once the child has passed the initial test, allow him or her to buy some exotic authentic sauces to try their hand at more complex dishes.
Encourage little chefs: It is a good thing if children are allowed to explore cooking and playing around with options.
image credit: bettycrocker.com.au