Fussy eaters? Here’s just the thing…
Despite the best efforts of me and Mr C – well, mostly me – our two aren’t the most adventurous of gourmets. In fact, one could quite happily live on pasta and variations on the theme of cheese-with-bread; the other would be happy with sausages and icing licked off the top of cupcakes (“do you want the rest, Mummy?”).
Cookery Eatery courses are all about changing that, though, so I signed up my eldest – much to his, er, delight – for a day last week, in the hope that if at least he tried one new thing, it would be worth it. But I wasn’t holding out much hope as I dropped him off empty-handed – no cheese sandwiches, no nothing – and drove away, trying to guess just how hungry he would be at the end of the day.
Turns out, it’s a totally stonking day camp. My eldest, my fussy eater, my cheese-on-toast-loving nearly-teen, came out of that day – and it’s a full 9 to 5 – having cooked and eaten things I could only imagine crossing his lips, with a recipe for vegetable frittata and a bag of granola that he’d made earlier in hand. And he was bouncing around like a puppy – he is, to be fair, all big feet and long legs – and didn’t stop talking about what he’d been doing for the whole of the drive home and beyond.
“So was it ok?”
“Ok? Ok? It was amazing. Can I go again? I’m definitely going again.”
The whole idea is that the children on the camp – and there were 5 or 6 the day he went – do everything. They think about food, they write out the recipes, they find the ingredients, they wash them (and their hands!), they chop, they slice, they dice, they fry, brown, bake, stir, the lot. And then they eat what they’ve made. H made waffles with maple syrup and whipped cream for breakfast, then granola to take home. Lunch was the veggie frittata, and then they made corned beef hash with ketchup they made themselves for their tea. And weirdly, the whipped cream was the one thing he said he didn’t like.
“Yeah, it had red peppers, courgettes, onions, eggs, that sort of thing.”
“And did you actually eat it?”
“It was delicious. Want me to cook it for you tomorrow?”
I kid you not: the following evening, Mr C and I sat in the garden in the sunshine with a G-and-T while our H cooked tea all on his own. I don’t think he even called me in once – no, maybe once to check whether I thought it was brown enough on top – until the whole thing was ready. And it was, as he said, delicious.
I honestly don’ know how Emma Ince Goulding, the founder of Cookery Eatery does it. But she does. And H came out raving about her – “she’s just so great” – as well as about the day as a whole. She somehow manages to get even the most recalcitrant eaters to scoff all sorts of things, at the same time as teaching them the basic skills that are so important in a kitchen – how to hold a knife, how to wash up, how to brown things in a pan, how to follow a recipe, that sort of thing. H definitely feels much more confident now, and much more willing to try new things and – hoorah, hoorah! – wants to cook for us!
“You know the best bit about it? It was really, I don’t know, free. I mean, there were rules, like, ‘don’t cut yourself with a knife’ – I mean, doh – but other than that, it was just really, I don’t know, free. We just got to ask stuff and do everything. I loved it.”
I am so booking him in for another day – October half term, here we come! – and I’m cursing the fact that Cookery Eatery’s after-school ‘supper clubs’ don’t run closer to home. And they also have ‘cook-alongs’ and a monthly ‘CookBook Club’ for adults, which sound like a whole lot of fun too. So maybe I’m booking me in, too.