I taught them to cook vidya4 - Flipbook - Page 24
Bert is good in the school garden so he should know. And he’s
right – we need to remove the battered and bruised fruit but I
must teach thriftiness in this throwaway world.
‘We’re going to use the apples to make apple chutney and
pickle those small onions in vinegar.’
From the grumbles and shuffling they’d rather repeat last
week’s fairy cakes lesson.
‘Hurry up – you have to make a choice. Apple chutney or
They divide by sex. Girls choose chutney, boys the onions.
This separation often happens. They are not choosing what they
want to cook. The boys and girls just don’t want to work with
On a school training day we’re told to mix up boys and girls,
make them sit next to each other and work in mixed sex pairs.
One evening Mark drove me past the deer in Richmond
Park. ‘An outing to look at the rutting.’ he teases. The female
deer huddle together and the giant stags, pumped high with
testosterone, roar and patrol their boundaries. No one makes
them mix up. I think Mark must have plans for us later.
In the classroom, while the girls cook in clean, organised
workplaces, the boys create a messy nest of ingredients which
soon spill onto the floor and end up being kicked under the tables.
Large teenage boys preparing tiny onions make me laugh as
they peel away the withered, brown skins, then top and tail the
onions and put them into salted water. Gradually the tears flow.
‘What’s up Bert? Does this lesson make you sad?’
Bert rubs his fists into his eyes. Now his whole face is pink
‘Class – don’t wipe your eyes with oniony hands – the juice
gets in and makes the crying worse.’ They blink, reddened and
‘Me Nan peels her onions under water.’ It’s Len who tells
me that he lives with his Nan and they each help prepare their