Where the Cooking Happens!
I've done cooking themes before. But we focused more on kitchen than food memories this time!
My group at the Center had fun modeling a few! Many had memories of moms in aprons... and grandmothers.
We thought about kitchen drawers, especially the one that usually gets packed with all the oddball stuff.
I brought in some things from one of my drawers that few people recognized. They liked the odd ice cream scoop and many recognized the corn holders and butter spreader.
No one could guess what the green plastic, 3-pronged device was. It's a popcorn eater! It even has a tiny salt shaker built into the handle.
Cooking and Kitchen Music!
When do people sing or whistle in the kitchen? I laughed about singing rounds while doing dishes with my sister. "Does anyone dance in the kitchen?" I asked. We ended up using kitchen "tools" as percussive instruments as we moved to the Bluesy rhythms of "Last Meal". (Which is actually an amusing song about a prisnoner's last meal)
Cookbooks and Stories
Lots of kitchens have a shelf for cookbooks. We talked about our favorite books and recipes. Then we created our own ridiculous recipe with an "Ad-Lib", kind of game. After the group came up with the needed adjectives, nouns etc. we had an amazing recipe for "Obama's favorite... dish of oranges and green beans...served in a jar... after sitting in a corner for 3 hours... On and on.. you get the idea.
It's funny how just seeing an egg beater or a rolling pin can bring back memories. We had some demonstrations filled with good humor! The most amusing thing to me was the fact that our twenty-something Ron, who was visiting one of my groups hardly recognized any of our stuff! I showed him one of the uses for the rolling pin by raising it over my head... and pretending to chase him out of my kitchen!
I had fun sharing an antique salesmen sample ice box and stove. I also had some dollhouse furniture to share.
Most of the folks I meet with didn't grow up in a generation when little girls had toy kitchens like I did. My own children grew up in a time with colorful "Little Tykes" toy kitchens. We began to wonder if fewer kids will "play kitchen" in the the future. Maybe they'll just "play chef".
Remembering the Smells
I asked my friends at the Center to close their eyes and imagine a kitchen from long ago. Maybe it was in their home or a grandmother's home. "Imagine something delicious that you might have smelled in a kitchen long ago!" After a while we shared. Dorothy was excited, remembering the catfish every Friday night. That made me smile.
Not a smell I expected to hear. But Rosa looked sad when it was her turn to share. With a heavy accent she explained that her mother died when she was 3 and she had no memories of her mother's cooking. I had to work fast to shift the focus. "Did you ever cook for your own children?" Her eyes lit up as she described the tamales she made for her kids.
What Did I Learn?
There's a reason people often use comfort and food in the same sentence. Food can make us feel safe and loved. But even the talk of food (unless you are truly hungry) can bring comfort as well. I felt warmed by all the talk... and I didn't absorb any calories while enjoying!
For 20+ years children have called it the Magic Quilt. They've danced and pretended all over these colorful squares. I've dragged it to schools, shelters and studios where children have climbed on top to hear Magic Quilt Stories and to act them out.