I’m a Southern girl. We Southern girls grow up learning how to cook, right? Wrong. Despite the fact that my biscuit-making, pressure-cooking grandmother lived with my family as I grew up, I didn’t learn one thing in the kitchen from her. My own mother kept me out. It was never said, but it was implied: “You shouldn’t be cooking. Go study; go write; go do your college applications.”
In a recent round-table discussion with First Lady Michelle Obama around the topic of healthy cooking, she shared a similar tale. Her grandmother worked full time at a bookstore and was the cook of the family. One Sunday afternoon while she was in law school Mrs. Obama got a call from her beloved grandma who asked, “What are you cooking?” Mrs. Obama laughed and recalled her response: “Grandma, I’m not cooking anything. I’m in law school. I don’t cook.” She went on to explain: “I wasn’t even thinking about cooking. It wasn’t something that I thought I needed to do. And there was no place to learn it.” Planning meals and shopping was second nature to her mom and grandmother, but it had skipped a generation.
Mrs. Obama rightly notes: “We’ve got a whole generation of people like me who learned in the midst of having kids. That’s when you start learning it.” Mrs. Obama said part of their goal of her Let’s Move! campaign is to work with USDA’s MyPlate to equip parents with recipes and simple cooking tips for building healthy meals. Mrs. Obama admits that she didn’t get this right at first. Beginners are welcome to this healthy cooking club.
For those of you who still feel like a cooking novice: Start small with trying one new recipe a week from our simple 20-minute recipe collection or from the MyPlate Pinterest boards. Or take cues from supermarket shortcuts and how-to cooking videos. More advanced cooks: Share what you know! Help your friends, pass them your tried and true recipes, and invite them for an evening of cooking.
Who taught you to cook? Are you in a family where the cooking secrets skipped a generation? You’re in good company.