Cooking smells evoke memories
I’m a child of the 60’s.
One of those lucky ones who got to play outside on the street with their friends till they heard their mother yell from the back porch ‘‘Oi – you lot… DINNER… NOW’’.
We didn’t worry about ecoli in the water as we drank out of the hose, then turned the squirty end on our brother before legging it inside so he couldn’t take his revenge.
It had its moments of difficulty, because stepping outside the behaviour boundaries would doubtless end in a wooden spoon wallop that would leave a mark.
And it sometimes required a good imagination to explain it away for friends who would tease us mercilessly if they knew we’d gotten a hiding for the sin of telling our siblings to ‘‘Shut Up!’’ within the hearing of She Who Must Be Obeyed.
But one of the abiding memories from those days was walking home from school, and being welcomed with the smell of dinner cooking.
Chicken boiling on the stove – sorry hen (Chicken evokes thoughts of tender meat, gently roasted – these girls needed to be boiled), or mutton cooking slowly over many hours.
Maybe some vegemite mousetraps.
Or Tuesdays when she baked, being careful to get the fancy stuff finished and hidden before we got home from school.
I knew where all her hiding places were. It was never safe.
Those smells, which we took for granted, spoke to us of warmth, of constancy, of safety and of love. It’s one of the things we appreciate about working in the schools.
As our teams prepare and cook the meals each day, the smell of the cooking brings back those memories.
Or sometimes creates new ones, for the children who enjoy our meals.
I think our trainees thought my marbles were escaping when I told them to go outside and get some fresh air, so they could come back and enjoy the smells – until they did it.
The children tell us they like to come into our space in the morning, so they can smell the lunch as it cooks, and imagine what it will taste like when the bell rings.
I know that feeling of warmth, of richness, of security and yes, of love.
Our trainees at Koha Kai are very proud of the skills they are developing, of the flavours they can recognise and the smells they can identify.
Its back to basics cooking, nothing fancy, nothing too hard.
It’s a skill we are looking forward to sharing with others as we move toward the next phase of our development.
We look forward to teaching others in our community how to reward themselves and their families with the gift of back to basics food that speaks of warmth, of strength, of family, and of love.
Janice Lee is Koha Kai project leader
Making lunch at Newfield Park School.