I am going to refer back to this article – http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-18/childrens-literacy-study-links-hearing-words-to-reading-ability/8697138 ” – Children’s literacy study links hearing words to reading ability for first time, researchers say”. (Do check it out; it is a good read for all parents.)
While readying through this article, I was asking myself whether I had introduced enough of our childhood dishes to my children? Do they know what those dishes are called? How they are prepared? How do they taste?
Thinking back, there were many dishes that I delayed introducing to my children for fear that they did not like them. I worried if they were too spicy for them, or, simply went with the belief that cooking something they liked to eat would made my life easier etc.
For example – “sambal udang“: I love this dish, but hardly cooked it when my children were younger because the sauce is cooked with spices and shrimp. I was afraid it was not tempting enough to entice my children to try, or too spicy and so ruin their taste buds.
I am wondering whether if I had my chance again, would I still follow this path? Would I share more of my childhood dishes without fear that my children wouldn’t eat them?
Come to think of it, when I was growing up, I was introduced to so many types of food. When I was in the kitchen helping my grandmother, I was encouraged to try to help as much as possible, whether it was pounding chillies, washing dishes or vegetables, stir frying or deep frying, gutting fish, chopping up meat etc.
I actually learned a lot by simply trying new food. I learned the names of the dishes, how they were prepared, even though I may not be the one cooking. It enhanced my palate through tasting and sampling. Also eating together with my family of more than 10 people during dinner time meant we tended to follow the pack and ate what they were eating, thus expending our appreciation of dishes.
While watching Masterchef the past few weeks, I am impressed that Malaysian dishes and ingredients were so promptly featured by both Sarah and Diana; terms like “sambal”, “bah Kut Teh” etc were introduced and the judges and contestant were well versed with the flavour, ingredients and names of those dishes.
Australia is a melting pot of culinary cuisines from all over the world. Ever heard of kebabs? Sushi? Shahimi? Bah Kut Teh? Rojak? Curry Mee? Rendang Chicken? Pho? Pad Thai? Pat See Ewe? And a whole load more dishes that I have never tried nor heard of before…
Why don’t you start there…
Be brave; introduce your favourite childhood dishes to your children, even though they may not know how to eat them. Introduce the flavour, name of the ingredients, names of the dishes and which part of the world this particular dish originated from etc.
The more they hear and taste those dishes, the more they will become accustomed to them and gradually expand their knowledge and appreciation of other cultures. Children can learn about other countries through the luxury of their beautiful cuisines.
So my answer is… yes. I would definitely be introducing more of our childhood dishes, as well as other cuisines to my children. I would allow them to not only be accustomed to what we normally eat in our families, but also allow them to be exposed to other cultures through the various cuisines.
So, be brave, expose and expend your children’s culinary knowledge and vocabulary skills from your kitchen.