I want my child to grow up to love food. When I think of people who love food I think of Italy and France, of large families eating together, outside under the vines and overlooking green fields. They are gathered together sharing stories, laughter and food made from homecooked, fresh, whole ingredients. I don’t think of people who guzzle their food at such a speed that it needs to be hyped up with artificial flavouring and frankly it doesn’t matter what else is in it ‘cos nobody is going to take the time to enjoy it let alone think about what it is doing to their innards.
But I don’t live in rural Italy and my family is nowhere near by to come join me at the table for a long afternoon lunch every week. What is more, I don’t live to cook, I cook to live. So how to do this? How can I impart a real, deep love for food to my child in this hectic, modern, urban lifestyle I live?
Honestly I don’t know the answer fully, yet. I have a sense that it starts with me. I need to re-find my own love for food, as I was saying. Knowing too much about nutrition can kill your love for food almost as quickly as not knowing enough about it, I find. Not that I am that knowledgeable but I have studied it a bit and lived and worked with people who know a great deal about this stuff and consequently I have been thinking a lot about these issues, oh, all my life, really. So, while for some the journey is one of learning, of re-gaining some control over what comes onto their plate (rather than handing over those decisions to multi-national food corporations, marketing industrials and supermarket conglomerates) for me the journey may start with letting go a little, relaxing, letting my hair down in the kitchen (metaphorically only, of course).
I need to infuse my own relationship with food with real joy and hope that feeling is contagious. I don’t want to ‘teach’ Anya how to eat but I’d love to inspire her or perhaps better still, I’d love us both to enjoy making and eating food together in the years ahead. Now, that feels like a good start to me. And, in truth, there is a whispering in me that reminds me that you don’t need to make a kid love food, I mean she clearly already does. It is just a question of not standing in the way of that.