The cousins visit
My 3 tween nephews came to spend a few days during Lockdown with us and we were glad to have them over! The first 3 days we just lazed about, stuffing our faces with anything edible and flipping through TV channels for anything that would fascinate or thrill us.
We soon got bored of just eating, watching TV and sleeping (yes, it is possible to!) and were ready for adventures. What else shall we do under this stifling but very necessary Lockdown? We played some of our own board games; oware and ludo but naah, my nephews were over it in minutes.
Then I had a ‘brazilliant’ idea; we will cook! “What?” “Why?!”, my nephews cried in unison, with a look of shock and indignation. How could I expect them to cook, they asked me? Whom did they expect to cook for them then, I inquired genuinely. Their laughter was almost thunderous; where was our housekeeper, Brian who is 11, asked. “She had to go back to her family because of the Lockdown”, I replied. I saw where this was going and so decided to let it play out.
“Then you should cook for us, like you have been doing since we got here”, chimed in Ruddy- he is 13 but would pass for a 16year old- tall with broad shoulders. “I am sorry but I’m too tired to cook and I don’t have extra money to order food to be delivered. We have food items here to make a meal if we wanted; shall we rustle up a 3-course meal?”
“Boys don’t cook”, announced 9-year-old Maxwell, much to my astonishment. Cooking is for girls, Auntie Eugenia, it’s not a boy’s job to cook, he firmly concluded.
Can cook, won’t cook…
My dearest tweenagers, cooking cannot be called a “girls’ job” and there so many reasons why; let’s just look at five.
- You must be able to feed yourself- it’s your right and privilege to cater to your own hunger. You know how you want your food to taste, especially since you grew up on your Mama’s delicious home-cooked meals. No one can recreate those dishes for you but yourself because you are the best person to learn from Mama. Why should you acquiesce this privilege of feeding yourself entirely to someone else?
- It’s a life skill – you are looking forward to the day you finish high school and head for your preferred tertiary institution, no? During your time there, you will begin your life of independence; making sure your space is clean, your bills (water, light, rent) paid on time, your laundry is done, your studies uninterrupted. You would usually have a refrigerator where you can store (cooked) food. So, if you are thousands of miles away from home how are you going to get your mama, aunties, Grandma or housekeeper make and bring you cooked meals in far away Canada? South Africa? You will order food from outside you say? Well, let’s consider the cost.
- It’s cheaper to cook- a good meal out there should cost you anything between GH¢55-GH¢80 (about US$6-US$15) and you must feed yourself 3times a day. Let’s say you’re away for 16 weeks (that’s 112 days) for your first semester; you spend about US$10 per meal, therefore US$30 a day. That will total US$3,360…on just food. Show this maths to your parents and see how quickly they will agree with you that learning to cook for yourself will save you about half that budget
- It’s a science, just not rocket science – you do know cooking is basically an applied science? Take cake-baking; typically, all recipes include flour, eggs, fat, sugar and baking powder and following simple steps that will produce the exact same results. That’s what science is, accuracy in application of methods to produce consistent results. Baking is basic physics and chemistry being applied…and you still think that even though you know basic science, cooking is only for girls? Aren’t you selling yourself short?
- A career – have you heard of Jamie Oliver or Ainsley Harriot? Two of my favourite British male Chefs who have cooking shows that are watched all over the world. Together, their net worth is 430…million…British…pounds!*
So the next time you want to say that cooking (or any skill) is the preserve of any one gender, do yourself a fat favour; go online and research how that skill is making people great and impacting lives.
*according to Wikipedia
>>>The writer is a passionate educator who makes learning fun for children under 18 through co-curricular programmes. Through her charity organisation, Young Educators Foundation (YEF) in Ghana, the programmes portfolios have expanded to include literacy programmes in local languages as well as public speaking programmes for the youth.
Based on her work in education and with children, Eugenia is the recipient of many nomination and awards such as a presidential award for the contribution to education over the past decade in 2018. In 2019, she was named as one of the 74 individuals in Those who Inspire Ghana, a global programme that identifies nationals whose experiences are worth sharing.
Eugenia believes that children are not the ‘future’, but rather the ‘present’ and so the need to invest in their total development. She is a regular contributor on radio and television shows as well as various public fora on this and related topics.