This is what my son said right after making his first batch of homemade pesto.
Right before that, he cheekily declared that it was the best pesto he’d ever had! The funny thing is that he was being sincere. He doesn’t really like to cook, so he was really impressed with what is possibly one of the healthiest green foods I’ve consistently enjoyed watching kids eat.
Pesto is one of those items that from time to time when I have to do a lot or feel a little lazy — I tried buy it in the store. I say tried because I can never make the purchase once I see the price. I know that I can make a much larger batch for less money using the highest quality ingredients. So I buy fresh basil and a slice of aged Parmesan, which by the way, is one of the healthiest cheeses you can eat, and I commit to the five minutes it takes me to make mine.
It’s taking out the food processor and cleaning it that inhibits my craving in the first place, not mixing it up. That’s the fun part, which is how I get my son involved. Guys love power tools. I have to admit that I love my kitchen utensils too. A dull knife means cooking is no fun, and while it is true that the best pesto I ever ate was slowly ground up with a mortar and pestle, I generally don’t have time for that process. Children, however, love the time-consuming and labor-intensive aspects of cooking.
Sifting flour is a classic example. I once had a 7 year old girl in my kitchen who sifted flour for almost an hour and we weren’t even going to bake anything that day! I also discovered that a group of teenagers love repetition of doing something like samosas. While, personally, I rarely have the patience to make the dozens that would be gobbled up if we made them from scratch, teens find it to be the perfect opportunity to talk.
I imagine that was the way it was before women started working outside the home. They cooked together and chatted. They connected. Food helps us connect with each other. It connects us to the earth, assuming the ingredients are real vs. synthetic — and somehow connects us with ourselves. Because real food, like all great art, has this powerful ability to bring us to the moment. When food is presented beautifully, when our bodies recognize the quality of food that has been lovingly or joyfully prepared rather than processed and packaged, we tend to be truly present. In that moment we experience the connection that we really long for. This craving will never be satisfied with food designed for profit.