Friday, April 13, 2012

The special delicacies for the New Year – Spare a thought for the cook

Go back 50 years, and look at the way the traditional eats were prepared almost exclusively at homes, under wood burning fires, using clay pots and natural locally produced containers, and then consider how they are prepared today, with all the plastic, kerosene or LP gas cookers, air-tight containers into which they are put and the fewer people in the household, engaged in the preparation thereof.

The coconut oil was usually from one’s own coconuts in the garden, dried and then taken to the local mill to be pressed into coconut oil. Rice flour was either from one’s own harvest a few weeks previously, and then milled in the local mill.

I listen to people in the villages relate the stories and the fun times they had in preparing the food, I don’t see that anymore, and the young lasses fight shy of helping their mothers with the preparations, leaving the mothers struggling all hours to finish the chores of cooking and cleaning before the times when the hearth is left and cleaned before the boiling of the milk.

In urban areas people really find it very difficult to make these preparations and often rely on catering services or shops to do the needful, whilst in rural areas due to time, cost, and lack of help fewer and fewer eats are now prepared, and many young people do not even like the food, often complaining that they are not as good as the fast and convenience foods they are used to. This generation gap is widening, so much so that I fear some of these traditions passed down through the ages will disappear soon. Families now rarely having no more than two children mean that many households do not have any daughters, and if there are only sons it is left to the mother to do the needful burdening her with this chore as she sees it!

We must therefore be mindful, that despite tradition, if we are to keep the customs alive, we will have to engage the males in the family to help prepare the eats, and also to know how to do so from beginning to end.

It may be the sign of the times, but young people spend less and less time in the kitchens much to the annoyance of their parents, and carry on with their pass times watching sports on TV or spending time with friends a rarely helping around the house. It is therefore vital to know what may happen if they continue in this direction and be advised, coaxed or encourage to help their mothers and learn the art of making these foods, before it becomes too late, with no one to teach.

Let us all make an effort this season irrespective of gender to learn to prepare at least a few items of food, so we know how unique this task is for this time of year.

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