Family Bonding in the Kitchen

Although the quarantine has had a profound effect on altering our daily lives, if we are healthy there could be a silver lining for families.  What a great opportunity for families to have fun together in the kitchen. All age groups can benefit and the rewards are endless. Why not beef up on cooking skills while gaining quality time with family members?  Children in general love the kitchen but adults often do not allow it to become a family affair. Well now is the time for them to take an active part from preparing foods, serving, eating and cleaning up after the meal. Together most chores can become learning experiences with lasting memories.  In countries like in Italy where families spend time together in the kitchen studies have shown that children gain confidence, improve language skills, bond more with family members; improve relationships, as well as putting all their senses in play.

There are also  benefits of learning such things as basic mathematical concepts, whether for a youngster to learn the basic measurements using spoons and cups to young adults learning grams versus ounces, Celsius versus Fahrenheit, dry heat versus moist or the ideal pan to use for certain dishes. There is history to learn experiencing foods from around the world and to expand one’s imagination with new adventures.   Children working in the family kitchen tend to eat better, more nutritiously and more apt to be more adventurous and develop taste buds trying foods that they prepared.

The joy of producing brings about immediate satisfaction as well as a skill that can be used in a lifetime. The quarantine gives us the permission to use our free time. As for someone raised in an Italian family where daily family life took place in the kitchen without a need for quarantine, the benefits have proven to me to be most rewarding.  Wish I could encourage more families when considering the wellbeing of their family to make cooking enjoyable. May I suggest as well making meals besides cookies.   Put some music on, dance if time allows and joke with one another.  Some of our family’s best memories take place in the kitchen. Laugh when mistakes are made for it is the best way to learn and remember what not to do, for example adding too much salt.  This is a great opportunity to practice the two most pleasurable arts, the art of cooking and the art of eating.

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Our children when young and into adult hood spent a great deal of their free time in our kitchen or in our restaurant kitchen.  Here you see our son Jason having fun cleaning and frying squid (calamari) with his friends 40 years ago.  There was no quarantine, just fun learning how to prepare and cook them,

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Now Jason with his own children is back in the kitchen showing his children how to clean and cook  calamari.  When in Italy with their grandparents they fell in love with squid ink pasta and sauce. Unable to dine out due to the quarantine, Jason told them if you want squid ink pasta and ink sauce, you have to make it, which you can see they did.   Cousin Bo is seen here in enjoying squid ink pasta and sauce.

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Laila, Michelle’s daughter from New York, when out of quarantine, joined her younger cousins.  Here they are seen after cutting the tentacles, stuffing the squid with sautéed spices and roasted peppers.

While in Quarantine in New York with her family Laila made her dad’s birthday cake becoming quite the pastry chef of the family. When attending school in Florence, Laila demonstrated  frittata making   for a class assignment while learning Italian.

Son Jorge is seen some 40 years ago with a friend getting the flour ready for pasta making and then playing with the freshly made beet pasta when mom was not looking. Today his three children ages 3-4-and 5 are making pasta with grandma during the quarantine. Something their dads did not do is make fresh ricotta but here we see the youngest grandkids making homemade ricotta with two ingredients, milk and freshly squeezed lemon juice.  So good. Nothing like the industrial made. We put fresh dill and finely chopped scallions into the ricotta for a delicious bruschetta topping.  Ok, we added a little of our own Villa Lucia olive oil that went on the bread. Not necessary but in our house a Luhan secret ingredient.

It is my philosophy that children should experience the art of cooking and eating with real food before the age of five. Then the influences of the media, marketers and food conglomerates, seeking  profit versus considering the health of consumers takes command.   Studies confirm this to lead to a healthier adult lifestyle with less food disorders.  Why not enjoy this most  rewarding and productive way to spend family time in or out of quarantine.

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