News emerges this week that the Sainted Delia Smith, veteran cookery programme guru, has doubts about the reintroduction of compulsory food lessons in schools. She also stated on Radio Four this week that she felt that young people were afraid of getting into the kitchen and cooking.
Now, forgive me if I’m being dense here, but how are we supposed to teach kids to cook if they’re not taught in school? It would be lovely to live in a world where all children helped their mother or father in the kitchen nightly to prepare the family meal. However, if there’s one thing the horse meat scandal has taught us over the past few weeks it’s that more and more of us have been relying on convenience meals. We are all working longer hours (news this week revealed the British do an average of 1.25 extra hours a day in a five day working week) and many of us are lucky if we get a pay increase that even keeps pace with rocketing inflation, not to mention rising costs of fuel and heating. All this adds up to corners being cut in the family.
Whilst I have the greatest respect for Saint Delia, I do wonder if she isn’t observing all this from the wrong angle. As someone who did study cookery at school up to the age of 16, I am still feeling the benefits some 20 years later. With the knowledge and skills that I have acquired over the years, but which were developed and nurtured by a succession of gifted cookery teachers, I can now prepare nourishing meals, cheaply and with a minimum of effort that can be ready for me within a few minutes of getting home, regardless of how late I’ve worked. This is the benefit of education in cookery.
The risks we take by not educating our kids in how to cook are plain for all to see: rising obesity, decline in health due to lack of essential vitamins, increased rates of diabetes and high blood pressure. It seems criminal not do try and do something. This may be a cynical vote-winner by the government, or it might be a well-timed press release to bury some other bad news, but, if taken at face value at least something is being done. And something is better than nothing, right?