The Mystery of Food

In one of my most dastardly schemes yet, I convinced my mother to buy my father an ice cream maker as a Father’s Day present.  Well, I convinced her to buy it (in my defense, it was a fantastic price for the model in question), she was the one who decided to make it a Father’s Day present.  This is absurd mostly because my father is never going to make ice cream.  But, as my mother pointed out, he’ll get to reap the benefits when we do.  For me, this means I can make frozen treats when I’m here visiting.  Score!

We stewed a little over what to make first and finally settled on raspberry sorbet.  So today I was getting the batter ready (sorbet won’t be made till tomorrow since I neglected to tell my Mom it needed to be put in the freezer ahead of time).  My father walked in and asked me what I was making and I told him.  He asked me what sorbet was.

I managed not to laugh.  I suppose it’s a valid question.  Except that I know he’s had sorbet because I made him sorbet the last time they visited me.  So I reminded him of that occasion, thinking it had slipped his mind.  He said he remembered, but he still didn’t know what the heck it was.

At first that made the whole thing seem even more absurd until it occurred to me I’m sure he’s not alone.  I’m fairly confident there are loads of people who eat foods every day without having the first idea what they’re eating.  I know that there was a British study done about five years ago where they discovered that most school children had no concept of what animals their meat came from.  (This perhaps says something about British cooking as well as modern ignorance)  It’s horrible, but perhaps not unexpected.  I know where my meat comes from, but I make a conscious effort not to think about that as I eat it.

My father’s a farm boy, so he knows where his meat comes from.  But that’s probably where his knowledge of food ends.  He got married in college (where he lived in places that provided his meals) so aside from a two year stint in Korea for which my family did not join him the man has never been responsible for preparing his own meals.  (And I suspect he ate out a LOT in Korea.)  He’s a fairly typical man of his generation in that he does everything possible to stay out of the kitchen and therefore does not know what goes on in that mystical world.  He once stated that he really loved my brownie recipe.  Wanna know my brownie recipe?  Buy Ghirardelli brownie mix.  Follow directions on box.  But I can give them to him and tell them they were from scratch and he’d never be the wiser.  I could have probably just given him the sorbet and called it ice cream and he’d have never questioned why it didn’t seem creamy.

In 18th Century Virginia cooking was considered a life skill.  Rich, poor, male, female, free slave all children were essentially kitchen staff.  Everyone grew up watching food prepared until they gained a working knowledge of it.  Enough that if responsible for their own meals, in a world with no instant prepared meals, they could do so.  How many people today could say the same? I’m never one that advocates reverting to the old way of doing things except some times when it comes to food.  Maybe we could pull the kids away from the game system and make them carry water in the kitchen for a while until they know sorbet from sherbet from ice cream.

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