October 23, 2021
Julia Child – Postscript: On cooking with children
In her cookbook Julia Child & Company (Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1978) Julia Child, also a Montessori child, wrote the following:
“Influenced, perhaps, by my early experience at a Montessori school, and surely by living in a clan full of carvers, painters, carpenters, and cooks of all ages, I am all for encouraging children to work productively with their hands. They learn to handle and care for equipment with respect. It is good to give them knives, for instance, as early as you dare. A knife is a tool, not a toy. A sharp, clean knife is safer to use than a dull, rusty one – easier too: a four-year old will discover that for himself as you teach him to slice a hard-boiled egg neatly and then to fillet a fish. Talk to children as you plan menus. Let their small, sensitive noses sniff the fish as you shop. Work together at the counter and let your children arrange platters. Nothing gives them more pleasure than setting things in rows and rosettes.
The small rituals, like the clean hands and clean apron before setting to work; the precision of gesture, like levelling off a cupful of flour; the charm of improvisation and making something new; the pride of mastery; and the gratification of offering something one has made – these have such value to a child. And where are they so easily to be obtained as in cooking? The patience and good humour demanded of you by cooking with a child are a good investment.
Do taste everything together, at every stage, and serve to children what you eat yourself. Once they have enough teeth to cope with any food, children, with their unjaded palates, are a keen, responsive audience for an enthusiastic cook.”