As an Adjunct Professor in the Hospitality Department of the local community college, I teach a Basic Culinary class to various groups of students.
Recently, one such class consisted of high functioning special needs teenagers and young adults who dove into the class with great enthusiasm. Everyone that is, except 'Sabrina'. Gentle prodding, enthusiastic encouragement, mild challenges - nothing got her up and out of her chair - until it was time to eat the fruits of our labor. She was always the first one up, waiting with her plate. The contents of which she usually proceeded to consume faster than anyone else, and then she was back for more. Fondly christened as the 'food pusher' by one of my previous employees, anyone who knows me will understand just how glad it made my heart that Sabrina enjoyed the food that we prepared so much.
On our final day of class, I asked each student to name, in turn, what specific techniques they had learned during their time there. 'Dicing'! 'how to mince garlic!', 'bechamel'! were some of the answers called out in rapid-fire succession. When it was Sabrina's turn, at first she wouldn't speak. Then, slowly, she said "how to boil water". I asked her to repeat herself, to make sure that I had heard right. Turns out, she meant exactly what she said. Nobody had told her that water needed to be boiled before pasta was added to it in order to cook properly. Unsurprisingly, macaroni and cheese and the pasta with marinara sauce that we had cooked were the two dishes she said she had most enjoyed.
And I was reminded again why I love teaching people how to cook. It doesn't have to be fancy, and it doesn't have to be complicated. All you have to do is learn how to boil water first.
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