When I say the words “food skills” I see the person I’m talking to imagine being on a reality TV show, trying to cook a caterpillar over a fire. The word pairing seems primitive, and a subject that’s more of an elective.
But what’s really reality - meta - is that you have to eat. You have to eat food, or you can not live. I know this conversation might be going into the deep end, but bear with me.
Math. Science. English. All subjects that are taught as common skills needed in life. But what about food. Am I saying those subjects should be taken out of schools? Absolutely not. I’m not a crazy person. I also understand that there are deadly allergies, unfortunate diseases and lack of access to food that are among the many issues we have with sustaining ourselves.
So here’s the deal. I am never going to tell you that you have to do something, but maybe put what skills you need that are related to food in the front seat. Here are mine.
1. Being able to feed a large group of people.
Even when I only had a couple of meals I could actually make under my belt, I got an endorphin high feeding large groups of people. This came in handy when a group of my inebriated friends got together in college. This skill is also why I think Thanksgiving is pretty much my favorite holiday.
2. Knowing what to do with leftovers.
This trait is the best on my wallet. You might have noticed that my recipes usually make about 4-6 servings, and there’s only me and the husband to eat what I make. And since the husband is vegetarian, it’s just me eating the meaty meals.
3. How to feed my vegetarian husband.
Now let’s get this straight, he can feed himself. And as I’m writing this post, he’s in the kitchen making my dinner. But the first year of his vegetarian lifestyle change was really difficult for me (and comically my mother). Now, he falls head over heels with some of the dishes I make for him and that kinda makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.
4. What to feed myself when I work a 9-5.
Having a full-time job was the quickest way I forgot about the importance of food. I mean, if you’re a working girl, you’re supposed to have your coffee in the morning, the salad at lunch and fall half asleep just thinking about dinner right? Nope. The answer is nope. There are so many other options.
5. Understanding how food is grown.
Now that I’m able to grow some produce, I tend to only eat tomatoes in the summer. I get it. It’s nice to be able to have any fruit or vegetable any time of year. It’s one of the progressions we’ve made in society. But when you know how much it takes to grow that cucumber, you start eating it the season it’s supposed to be harvested because it tastes amazing at this time.
6. The actual nutritional value of what I’m eating.
Here’s a fun fact: I don’t have to worry about my salt intake when I make my food at home, because I’m not consuming mostly processed foods that are covered in sodium. And sugar. But I had to learn that. I used to be the one that would avoid avocado because it was too fatty but picked up the potato chips out of boredom.
7. Cooking the flavors of my umma and halmoni.
This is probably the most important food skill I will always be learning. My mom is an amazing cook. And she learned that from my grandma (rest in peace). These flavors can’t be passed to me any other way then seeing and doing.
Here’s what I’m saying: learn what food means to you. Expose yourself with food related things like this blog, podcasts and youtube channels. It’s going to be different for you than what it means to me. But I'm here for you, to give encouragement to learn food skills.