Stephanie Alexander is desperate for our children to fall madly, deeply, truly in love—with food. And with over ten per cent of Australian primary schools participating in the Kitchen Garden Foundation program (also inspiring the New Zealand version, Garden to Table) she has, shall we say, made a big dent in the Australasian food-love soufflé.
Here’s how to foster a child’s life-long love of food, Stephanie Alexander style:
“I’d built a deep understanding of how to respect food, how to love food” – Stephanie Alexander
Alexander credits her wide-spanning career as a restaurateur, food-writer and tireless campaigner for a healthy love of eating to her mother, and to time spent in France as a young woman. Her parents’ close friendships with Jewish immigrants after World War Two had an immediate impact on what was coming out of her mother’s kitchen. There were now caraway seeds in bread and walnuts in cakes. It wasn’t until her first meal at the dining hall at Melbourne University’s halls of residence, that she realized her mother’s “parade across the table” was highly unusual. France fostered her understanding of the “ceremony of the table” and how to shop cost-effectively. All of these factors lead her to a life of everything food.
“I love words and I love writing books” – Stephanie Alexander
Most important to her now is the passing down of knowledge. This is why, she says, she has written fourteen cookbooks. Her legendary cooking bible The Cook’s Companion has sold more than 500,000 copies since 1996. One of which was clutched to the chest of New Zealand’s best-loved chef Peter Gordon who stood, smiling shyly, at the signing desk. Every man has his hero.
Alexander concluded by emphasizing the importance of the pleasure aspect of food and positive modeling through great food experiences. If a child knows how to prepare healthy food they will be able to “look after themselves and enjoy food.”
It’s all about:
Keeping it simple
Knowing your ingredients
Losing your anxiety about cooking
Finding the pleasure!