When I was growing up in the United States, I observed that many parents there underestimated their children’s’ tastes. At home they would feed them hot dogs, chicken nuggets and frozen fish fingers while at restaurants their kids would always order from the children’s menu, which listed the same dishes, plus pizza and burgers.
Fortunately, Amanda Grant, who specialises in food writing for children and founded Cook School, a British-based non-profit organisation that teaches kids about food and how to cook, assumes that children are more broad-minded (or would that be broad-palated?) than their parents give them credit for.
In The Silver Spoon for Children – Favourite Italian Recipes (2009), she not only gives a broad range of Italian recipes that aren’t dumbed down just because they are targeted at children, but also gets those youngsters to cook them.
In the introduction, Grant writes, “Over the centuries, Italians have discovered exactly how to mix a few simple, good-quality ingredients to make meals that are full of flavour. For instance, you can make a delicious sauce for pasta with just a few basic items such as good-quality canned tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic and a good olive oil.
Cover for cookbook The Silver Spoon for Children – Favourite Italian Recipes by Grant. Photo: Jonathan Wong
“The recipes in this book will help you learn some key skills and techniques used in any kitchen, not just Italian ones: you will learn how to use a small sharp knife (which is essential if you are going to do some proper cooking!), how to prepare vegetables, how to cook pasta, even how to make your own pizza dough from scratch.
“Cooking isn’t just about making something good to eat: by following the recipes, you will practise some maths (measuring, sharing), reading (the recipes as well as lots of fun bits of information along the way), geography (you will learn some interesting facts about Italy), and perhaps even art […]
Grant specialises in food writing for children and founded Cook School, a British-based non-profit organisation that teaches kids about food and how to cook. Photo: Amanda Grant
A recipe from The Silver Spoon for Children – Favourite Italian Recipes. Photo: Jonathan Wong
“All the recipes in The Silver Spoon for Children have been tested by children – if you’re aged nine or 10 or older, you should be able to follow most of the recipes by yourself, with some occasional help from an adult. But do always remember to check with an adult before you begin and make sure that there is someone with you when you use a sharp knife, the oven or electrical equipment like a food processor. If you’re younger than nine you will need help from an adult, or an older brother or sister.”
And what does Grant expect children to like? Of course, there’s the pizza and spaghetti with tomato sauce, but she also gives recipes for summer cannellini bean salad, tuna frittata with green beans, chicken breasts stuffed with mascarpone, polenta gnocchi, baked aubergine with tomato, linguine with pesto, roast leg of lamb in herb crust with stuffed tomatoes, Tuscan minestrone soup, chicken stew with olives, ravioli Napoletana, lasagne, and lamb chops and new potatoes with rosemary.
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