The Most Important Ingredient

IMG_3055His night is Tuesday, his brother Edgar’s is Wednesday, and August has Thursdays.

Now that school is back and session and routine is de rigueur, the boys each have their own night to cook–which means meal-planning on Saturdays, shopping on Sundays, setting the table, preparing the meal, and cleaning up–all with supervision, of course, commensurate to their respective ages and abilities.

There are so many good reasons to do this, so many benefits–certainly enhancing their collective understanding of what goes into meal-preparation, creating more opportunities to talk (about food, yes, but about everything else, too), and sneaking in a few chemistry and math lessons along the way.

Oscar sat back tonight and watched us all eat what he had made, the dishcloth draped jauntily over his right shoulder, his eyes moving from one ingesting family member to the next, pride written all over his face.  He waxed poetically about drizzling olive oil on the crusts, about putting just enough and not too much cheese on each pizza, about making sure everyone had everything they needed.  Listening to him lecture his four-year-old brother about how hard he worked on the meal and how much he wanted him to eat it all up was nothing short of perfection.

But perhaps the best reason to cook with children, the best reason I want to cook with my children was summed up by Edgar tonight at the table as he ate his brother’s homemade (and, I might add, incredibly delicious) pizza.

Edgar ate his dinner tonight with unadulterated gusto, and in between enthusiastic bites turned to his brother, whom he called “Chef,” and said, “You cooked good food for me.  I just love you.”  He then got up, kissed Oscar on the head, and sat back down.

The most important ingredient in any dish is love . . . isn’t that what they say?

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