I have been playing in the kitchen since I was 11 or 12. Always, it was play. My brother and I were like mad scientists as we explored our mother's amply supplied pantry. We would use our allowance to purchase new and unusual spices. We would run up to the corner Safeway for goodies to add to our concoctions. We were really strange children.
This memory came rushing back last night as I talked with a friend of mine, via phone. Her daughter, my son's best friend, has taken to urging her mother to "cook more like J's mom." Little nudges like "Oh, try this Mom!" or "J's mom makes this, can you?"
When I heard this little tidbit, I was touched. I was also wondering how my friend must feel about the criticism of her cooking by her teenage daughter. But, my wonder was soon replaced by giggles when said friend asked if she could come and play in my kitchen. She wanted to learn how to combine spices, how to stock her spice cupboard, how to make waffles, pancakes, simple comfort foods. Now I was really touched!
Tomorrow is going to be our first "play date". We are going to go through my spice cupboards, make a list of those she doesn't have, and prepare a simple dish using a few of those herbs and spices. Simple things. Things to "give permission" to use unusual things. "Permission" to allow for mistakes, learning and success. She is excited. I am too, but more.