Cook­ing smells evoke me­mories

The Invercargill Eye - - CONVERSATIONS - JAN­ICE LEE

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.

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