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  • Writer's pictureMark Chabus

Rediscovering the Lost Art of Cooking: A Journey Back to Nonna's Kitchen




As an experienced chef and a father to four perpetually hungry kids, my kitchen is always buzzing with culinary creations. I relish the opportunity to channel my passion for food into crafting delightful meals for my family. During a morning drive to school with my kids, I posed a question to my eldest daughter: "What are your top three favorite home-cooked meals?" Her response was enlightening—nonna's spaghetti and meatballs took the top spot, followed by my chicken cutlets. However, the revelation of her third favorite got lost in my contemplation of nonna's meatballs reigning supreme. Nonna's meatballs? What about mine? Despite my love for nonna and her culinary skills, I firmly believe mine are superior—cue the playful rivalry. This banter sparked a deeper reflection. It dawned on me that I should master nonna's meatball recipe, considering it holds a special place in my daughter's heart. What if she yearns for them in the unfortunate event nonna is no longer with us? This contemplation led me to ponder the nostalgic power of childhood dishes, how they evoke positive emotions even decades later. Lessons from nonna are on my agenda, but first, I wanted to share these musings...


In the hustle and bustle of modern life, many of us have traded the joy of home-cooked meals for the convenience of fast food and processed options. Our parents, raised in the era of industrialization and commercialization, were promised that convenience could trump quality in the kitchen. And for a while, it seemed like a fair trade-off.


As a result, almost a whole generation, my generation, grew up on the ease of fast food restaurants, microwavable dinners and processed foods. We became accustomed to the idea that meals could be prepared or consumed in minutes, eliminating the need for the slow and intentional art of cooking. It was simple-when your are hungry, find something to eat fast, eat really quickly and swiftly move on. Sounds easy enough.


However, it's hard to ignore the fact that there is a shift happening. Many of us are waking up to the realization that the convenience we gained came at the cost of quality—both in terms of the food we eat and the experiences we share. We've begun to understand that there's more to cooking than just putting a meal on the table. It's about spending time with family, taking pride in the dishes we create, and cultivating patience and mindfulness in the kitchen.


Now, armed with a newfound appreciation for quality and a desire to reconnect with the roots of our culinary heritage, we're turning to platforms like YouTube and social media to learn the art of cooking. I personally think that is great but there's a missing link in this culinary journey—the recipes and skills used by our grandparents.


Our grandparents, who cooked with love and simplicity, created dishes that not only satisfied our taste buds but also carried the essence of tradition and familial bonds. As we embark on this journey back to the kitchen, we sometimes find ourselves yearning for the flavors and techniques that shaped our childhoods.


So, how can we bridge this generational gap in our kitchens? Here are some ideas that might help you solve this dilemma.


1. Embrace Tradition: Revisit those old recipe cards or, better yet, sit down with grandparents or relatives who have a treasure trove of culinary wisdom. Embrace the flavors that have stood the test of time.


2. Blend Old with New: Incorporate the traditional recipes into your modern kitchen. Use the techniques handed down by your grandparents but experiment with fresh, locally sourced ingredients.


3. Share the Experience: Cooking is not just about the final dish; it's about the journey. Invite friends and family to join you in the kitchen. Share stories, laughter, and the joy of creating something together.


4. Document the Legacy: Create a family cookbook that compiles the recipes, anecdotes, and cooking tips passed down through generations. Keep the culinary legacy alive for future generations.


As we rediscover the lost art of cooking, let's savor not just the flavors but also the heritage and memories that come with each dish. It's a journey that takes us back to Grandma's kitchen, where every meal was a labor of love and every bite carried the warmth of home.

In this culinary revival, let's honor the past while creating a future where the kitchen is not just a place to eat but a space to connect, create, and cherish. After all, the heart of the home has always been where the aroma of a home-cooked meal lingers—the kitchen.

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