Saturday, 20 June 2009

Do you have to cook this?

The kid is standing there with a bewildered expression and I am wondering if he visits the kitchen in his home.
I had to make a detour to the supermarket for an elderly friend yesterday. I found it had been invaded by a dozen boys from the local fee-paying school. They were supposed to be shopping for their three day winter expedition. It is some sort of 'toughening up' exercise for kids from supposedly privileged backgrounds. They have to walk great distances in the countryside carrying everything they need in backpacks. The teachers follow on behind as a security measure - and hope that the weather is atrocious so that the kids will really learn something. ( I suspect it will teach the kids to hate the great outdoors.)
The kids have to feed themselves. According to them they have not been given any guidance in this matter. (At this point I wonder about a little searching on the internet or a couple of relevant books.)
They are standing there looking at the shelves. They have rejected tins as too heavy and glass as ditto and dangerous. That's a good start. The problem, according to them, is that none of them can cook. I can hear them discussing this earnestly as I hunt for the dinasour shaped pasta my friend wants to make 'dinasour soup' for her young grandchildren. I can also see them eyeing me off. Am I friendly? If they ask a question will I laugh at them?
"Okay guys, what's the problem?"
"Um, yeah, er, well it's like do you cook this stuff? Is it easy?"
They indicate the pasta.
"Dead easy if you have a container to cook in, a fire and a water supply."
They begin to look a bit more hopeful. I explain. One of them takes notes on one of the little electronic devices they all seem to have.
Then I say, "And what are you going to put with it?"
Blank looks and then, "You mean like the tomato stuff?"
Yes, that is what I mean. I watch them survey the shelves. They are completely lost again. I introduce them to tomato paste in neat foil pouches and explain how to use it with the dried vegetable mix. It's not great food by any means but they will probably be hungry enough to eat it. I tell them that, if they start out with frozen minced meat on the first day it will be defrosted and ready to cook by evening. Further explanations about how much and how to cook are necessary.
They wonder about bread. It's too bulky to carry.
"There's an answer to that problem too. Want to know?" They look warily at me and then nod.
I show them the packet scone mix and tell them to pack it in resealable plastic bags. They can make damper.
I suggest powdered milk and tell them how to mix it and advise them that 'Weetbix' or whatever brand of breakfast type biscuit they like is preferable to cornflakes.
They head for fruit straps and chocolate and trail mix.
It is not a balanced diet at all. They will probably be hungry - and cold and wet and miserable. I could shop for less and feed them better. Their damper will probably be raw inside and burned on the outside. Their pasta sauce will probably stick to the pan and the pasta itself is likely to molto al dente. They will try.
As they headed for the checkout and I headed for the fresh milk the school's outdoor coordinator stopped me. He had, he said, been about to intervene when they asked me.
He is holding a pouch of sauce for "Tuscan meat balls" and asks me, "Do you have to cook this?"


Penny said...

Hi Cat, thanks for visiting my blog. Those private school boys seem to have had as much cooking exeriance as the ones I have come across. It was kind of you to help them.

catdownunder said...

Hi Penny!