Creating memorable moments is an important way to connect family members together and it is something that can start when children are young.
Many of us have some favourite dish that reminds us of special times – maybe Mum’s Christmas pudding or Dad’s secret barbecue marinade. No matter what the food is, the stories we build around that morsel become part of our culture and just a hint of that mouth-watering aroma can bring back memories.
Some obvious classic Kiwi traditions are ham and turkey at Christmas, chippies and dip, sausage sizzle fundraisers but there are little things we do that are equally significant.
Pausing to make a wish before taking that first bite of a new season fruit is fun for littlies and teaches them to appreciate the changes of nature. Preparing family food that follows the seasons is also a valuable lesson in a world where we can get almost anything all year round, as long as you are prepared to pay for air miles.
Giving thanks for a meal before devouring it is a wonderful way of pausing, appreciating what has been provided and mindfully engaging in the nourishment. In a hectic world, food can become fuel that is gulped down on the run and slowing down a little is good for the soul as well as your digestion.
Different cultures are introducing new food traditions to New Zealand, which can be as simple as the way we use our cutlery. Back in the day we ate with our fork in the left hand and in an upside down manner that made it impossible to eat peas unless you squashed them and glued them with mashed spud.
Now anything goes with many younger people eating in the American fashion, scooping up a mass of peas with their fork up the right way and in their right hand. Even the TV show The Bachelor critiqued the lead bloke for eating with his cutlery all over the show.
Some traditions can add a hint of rebellion to the dinner table. For example, when salt was spilt, superstition required the perpetrator to throw a pinch of salt over their shoulder, to prevent bad luck. Great fun for kids as they get to chuck salt around but maybe best kept for outdoor dining or in rooms where mess doesn't matter.
Hunting and gathering a feed is a classic Kiwi tradition that has transformed from being a necessity to being an activity that can be satisfying fun. Schools holidays are a great time to give children cherished memories about digging for pipi, picking feijoas or even planting something they can eat in a few months.
Food and eating is much more than sustenance. Learning to share food, enjoy the moment and celebrate with others, no matter what way they use their cutlery, will make classic Kiwi culinary traditions for the next generation.