The Next Generation Cooks Dinner

Earthquakes. Hurricanes. Too much rain or not enough. Wars and famine.

It was time for some good news.

Last week my husband and I were invited to a dinner party. It was given by Kate, aged l7, who was leaving for college the next day, and she wanted to have a little going away party for herself. Of course we’d come. After all, we’ve known Kate since she was born and her two brothers since they were little kids.

Because it was her dad who actually invited us, we expected the big kind of rambling get together Kate’s parents often hold, where a lot of people who don’t know each other –and some who do – mingle and eat and talk. But no, this was Kate’s deal. Aside from her brothers, her boy friend, and brother’s girlfriend, the rest of us were her parent’s friends. And it turned out that neither Kate’s mom or dad were there —a sick parent need attending and a truck had broken down—which gave us the giddy feeling that there weren’t any adults around despite our ages. When we offered to help, “No thanks! Got it!” was the reply. Kate had dinner under control. Here’s the menu that she cooked.

Margaritas from scratch, no margarita mix in site

Home made guacamole

Grilled asparaguswith a tomatilla salsa

Grilled steak

A big Caesar salad

Polenta with fried onions

A plum galette and lime mousse tarts for dessert

Nothing was from Trader Joes. Nothing was out of package. No parents were there to lend a hand. Kate and her boyfriend, with a brother occasionally pitching in, pulled off a delicious meal without a hitch. Us older types sat around the kitchen table with our margaritas and basked in the situation. We watched the kids cook, ate a wonderful dinner and it was a terrifically fun party with lots of conversation.

I had no idea Kate liked to cook or knew how. When I asked her brothers about this, they thought that kids in Santa Fe generally knew how to cook. They acted as if it weren’t a big deal, but just a natural consequence of growing up here, which I found surprising. Why would that be the case?

One reason brother Andrew sited was a program called Cooking for Kids that has, for over a decade, worked in the Santa Fe schools to give children hands on experiences of cooking food. (I actually taught the younger brother, Will, through this program when he was in the 3rd grade.)

Then both brothers said that when they finally realized how much it cost to to eat out all the time, they figured that they had to learn how to cook.

But they didn’t mention something that had been going on right under their noses, and it had to do with their parents. Their dad, a furniture designer who works from home, is a very good baker. There’s always fresh bread around or the smell of bread baking. When it’s pizza night at their house, it isn’t Ray Ban outlet delivered, but made at home. as are their other meals. Kate’s parents aren’t foodies, they don’t shop at the farmers market or get excited about smoked salt, but baking bread and cooking from scratch is just something they do.

Kate’s mom commutes to her job so her husband often cooks. But as a naturally social person, she often puts together parties. The parents have always made time for friends and included their kids and those of their friends in their large get-togethers over the years. They’ve also given parties in honor of their children–one graduating high school, another getting that masters degree, a third visiting home from college —and they do so with natural ease and graciousness.  So is it really surprising that Kate would be able to pull off a dinner for 14 with the grace and skill of a practiced hostess—and all this the night before heading east for college?  Not really.

Not to take one single thing away from this young woman whom we love and admire, perhaps it’s true, that what your parents do does make a difference and does count for something. In Kate’s case, a natural ease in the kitchen and equal ease with guests, plus a certain tolerance for chaos, are already Occhiali Da sole Ray Ban outlet fully functioning qualities in her young life, and these skills will only get better as she gets older.  Her familiarity with the kitchen also suggests that programs, like Cooking with Kids, which engage children in cooking and eating on many occasions as they go through school, also make a difference.

It’s been a week now, but I’m still basking in the deep joy of that evening as the guest of a 17-year old whose parents weren’t there, who proved herself a competent cook and a gracious host as well as the lovely person she is.  It definitely cancelled out the bad news. And I didn’t even think to take a picture!

7 thoughts on “The Next Generation Cooks Dinner

  1. Tracey Ryder

    Sounds like a great time, Deborah! I love hearing stories about young cooks like Kate. Really made me homesick for Santa Fe too. Hope to see you and Patrick when we get back to town in September. Cheers!

  2. Kahsia Hartwell

    Hi Deborah,
    Just thought I would let you know that our daughter Kendra is enrolled at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts in Vancouver,BC. She’s been cooking from the garden for years. There is hope.

  3. Rivki Locker

    I don’t think there are too many kids out there like her! These days it seems like cooking is a dying art. I cook with my kids all the time and hope to instill the love and skills in them, too!


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