Last week cooking at school soared to a whole new level and, I have to confess, so did my heart rate when I first heard about it. I love the fact that both G and M have been able to participate in cooking at school this year and have been involved every step of the way to ensure that they’ve been able to eat whatever they’ve cooked – be that by providing adapted recipes, suitable ingredients or, on occasion, a friendly alternative for them to enjoy after cooking with “normal” ingredients. A stream of constant communication between myself, the school secretary, both class teachers and the SENCo has been key to this success.
This time round, however, the plan completely changed. The Square Food Foundation were coming into school to cook with the children, one class at a time and when I asked the obvious question – “What are they cooking?” – the school had no idea what was on the menu. The letter home had asked parents to list any food allergies as they knew that some could be accommodated, so I felt confident that G would be okay, but I wanted to understand whether M would be able to taste the food that was being taken back to the classroom after the session, or if I would need to come up with a back-up plan for him. The Headteacher said that he would be contacting the Foundation himself to ask the question and, armed with the full list of M’s current allergies, he made the phone-call. To my delight, he was reassured that M would be able to take part fully in the lesson and I agreed to be a parent helper for M’s class to make sure that all ingredients used were definitely safe.
The day eventually came, we got to school and here is where I need to make a very big apology to the organisers from the Square Food Foundation. I caught sight of the tables and ingredients set up in the school hall and my heart sank. I saw piles of baguettes, cartons of natural yoghurt and boxes of eggs; and I doubted what they had said. At first glance I couldn’t see how M could possibly be able to taste the food with those ingredients involved and we started the lesson with me quickly trying to work out if I could fit in a quick dash home to pick up something M-friendly for the tasting afterwards. However, I was wrong. As they discussed the different ingredients they’d be using, the children were asked what they thought they could prepare using the eggs and oil:
“Fried eggs“….”something yummy“….”something I can’t eat“
(you can guess who that last response came from)
“Ah yes. You must be the young chap with food allergies. What can’t you eat?“
As I reeled off the list, the man in charge sagely nodded his head, “Then you will be in our houmous team” and with that comment, all become clear. The plan was to prepare 3 different dips – houmous, aioli and tzatziki – and assorted crudites during the 30 minutes cooking time. The class was quickly divided into 3 equal groups and sent to 3 banks of tables, where all the necessary ingredients and equipment were ready and waiting for them. The children had an amazing time. They were trusted to use sharp knives to chop the vegetables and crush the garlic. They drizzled the oil, squeezed the lemons and ground the cumin seeds. Finally, they mixed the ingredients together and plated up their finished houmous and crudites for the class to admire and enjoy.
All 3 dips looked amazing and I am assured by M that the houmous was delicious. It was a great morning’s activity and I know that G enjoyed her chance to make aioli later in the day too. So it’s a very big “Thank you” to all the members of the Square Food Foundation who came to the school, taught some new skills to the children and made no fuss about meeting the needs of M in such an amazing way.