Genevieve was a 27-year-old young professional living in a house in the city with three roommates, one of whom was her boyfriend. Although her mother had her make dinner on Monday nights, she never felt as if she learned. “The only thing I remember her teaching me was something called tuna curry, which was tuna fish mixed with curry powder. I really don’t even know how to make that.”
Before the project: Gen admitted she did a lot of takeout, often premade meals from supermarkets, mingled with occasional frozen dinners. She wasn’t sure how to hard-boil an egg or hold a knife, but argued that she wasn’t alone – none of her twenty-something housemates could cook, either. For our lunch, she mixed Asian slaw with a jar of ginger teriyaki sauce, a recipe she’d learned from a friend. She had debated between that, and a bagged Caesar salad kit or a frozen pasta meal, other frequent option. If she made a dish, she had no idea what to do with the leftovers other than slice them up and eat them raw.
After the project: Gen moved into a nicely appointed condo near the city’s University District. That night, she made salmon cooked in parchment with lemon and fresh dill, paired with roasted asparagus. The couple had developed a friendship with the family that ran a farm stand near their house. She makes dinner most nights and diligently uses up her leftovers. “I am a champ at scouring the fridge for bits of stuff to make salad. That’s one dinner a week.” Through tasting and making her own vinaigrette, she discovered a previously unknown love of infused vinegars; tarragon was her current favorite. She had mastered guacamole, something she used to buy in a pouch. Her new go-to dinner: An omelet, with a glass of wine.
Gen’s takeaway: “If I didn’t know how to cook, I wouldn’t know this family from the farm stand. It’s funny, but I feel like I’m now connected to this community. It has brought me closer to what’s important to me when it comes to food. And frankly, I like being to impress my friends with my knife skills!”
Most impactful lessons: Knife skills, fish, vegetables, vinaigrette, leftovers
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