Step away from the stove

My brother invited me over for a scotch a while ago, an offer impossible to refuse (he has a wonderful collection). We sat in his kitchen sipping a gorgeous Glenlivet while his nine-year-old daughter busied herself around us preparing dinner.

I waited for him to jump up and intervene as she reached for a sharp knife to chop the onion. I expected him to leap towards the stove as she began sautéing them with a little olive oil and butter as a base for a tomato sauce she was preparing. I thought he might assist her as she filled a pan with water to boil her pasta or help her open the tin of tomatoes she needed for her sauce. I especially thought he might want to drain the pasta to avoid her scalding herself on the boiling water.

But he didn’t.

Instead, he hovered in close proximity (just in case) neither getting in her way nor making her feel like he was interfering. She was cooking because he had encouraged her to do so and because she loved it. It was, in my opinion, an excellent display of fatherhood.

She is empowered to cook for the family once a week, her older brother twice weekly. This is an inspiration to me. His children learn more than just issues of responsibility as part of this process. They learn about food. They learn not to fear it. They learn to experiment, be creative and, above all, enjoy it.

She asked me what I thought of her creation. In my head, I thought perhaps a dash more salt might not go amiss. But, as I watched a family nourished by it, enjoying it, coming back for seconds, I replied “it’s perfect”. And so it was.

A family meal as good as it gets.

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