What a sad state of affairs we must be in when cookery is now treated as a “life skill” to be practiced in after schools clubs.
Today’s announcement that all children will be offered some form of cookery lessons might sound like a good move in the right direction at first glance.
But looking past the headline it’s easy to see the problem area – just look at the language. “design and technology” and “licence to cook”.
I blame it all on the arrival of domestic science. Shopping, cooking and eating isn’t a a science – a necessity, yes, a pleasure, often, and an art form, occasionally but a science, never. There was a time when cooking at school was about weighing out ingredients, rubbing in butter and mashing up spuds as well as, most importantly, burning sponge cakes or destroying eggs.
There were the endless supplies of rock cakes to take home to broken toothed parents and masses of cheese and onion pie to be reheated for tea after proudly carrying the created offerings home on the school bus in little baskets more usually seen in a nursery rhymes.
What has this to do with science and the saleability of food products, health and safety and marketing?
Just look at this extract from the curriculum which relates to secondary school lessons where pupils are asked to “design” a soup or a salad leading me to wonder what exactly is wrong with really making one and serving it up for lunch?
* classify foods by their sources, eg animals, crops and plants produced organically, grown locally or imported, by commodity groups and by the plate model in The balance of good health (HEA, 1994)
* consider nutritional information, eg healthy eating guidelines
* mix ingredients with different functional properties and measure and consider the effects of varying ingredients, eg proportion, ratio
* carry out sensory tests to evaluate food products
Ignoring for a minute the “plate model”, just what is involved in the “sensory tests to evaluate food”? Perhaps that would be looking at, smelling and even eating some food.
What an amazing life skill.