Rite of passage

by allegrainitalia

You’ll have to trust me on this one, because I promise it relates back to Italy.

Have you ever thought about how in the past, very primitive times, scavenging for and preparing food used to be taught to younger generations? Picture it: to nomadic tribes, finding the most efficient ways of eating used to be a basic life skill. For some tribes, you weren’t fully considered a man until you could hunt your own kill.

For probably the fourth time, I was just watching Jamie Oliver’s TED Talk which just happened to win the TED Prize in 2010, and I came to a realization. We always hear about how schools aren’t preparing students for the real life. Students learn calculus, and trig, but they are unable to balance their checkbook. Or learn how to cook.

Taken in my culinary class, 2011.

Parsley and carrots. Photo taken in culinary class, 2011.

I agree with Jamie. This is a global problem, an important one that needs to be addressed directly. I believe that schools should teach students how to cook using fresh ingredients.

We’ve all had those conversations with teenagers: “No, I can cook. I just made ramen/EasyMac/offbrandfrozendinner last night.” It’s an issue.

This is why, when I sat down to write the required letter to the program that matches us up with our host families, I didn’t get picky. Smoking, not smoking, pets, no pets…I really didn’t care. The only thing I wrote, for the majority of the letter, is that I really want an Italian family that will invite me into their kitchen with open arms.

I don’t want to just sit at the table with my knife and fork and eat the Italian food that makes this great people so famous. I don’t want to just be able to say “Oh, the food in Italy is incredible. I went to this restaurant.” No. I want to be able to say, “I had the greatest time spending the day in the kitchen with my host family learning about this particular dish and why it’s so important to them.”

Happily, I grew up in a household that stressed the importance of food. But for those who don’t, one of the many who say “We didn’t cook; we reheated,” maybe food education in school could be their way in.

Because if not, a ticket to Italy is awfully expensive.

-Allegra

P.S. In the comments, feel free to tell me whether you grew up in a dine in/ dine out household!