In the previous post, the recipe for sticky rice congee with chicken, lemongrass and quail eggs, reader Candice commented:
i just read the recipe for lugaw with premature eggs and saw the picture of the innards… i’ve never even seen those parts of a chicken in my whole life! forgive my ignorance but did all of this come from one single hen or more? (btw, i wasn’t much of a genius in anatomy in school)
I sympathize. Seriously. I was no science genius in school either, I was even worse in math, but I can’t say it was because my brain just wasn’t up to the challenge, nor was I lazy, nor was any of it my fault.
Take math, for instance. Fractions. How were we taught fractions in school? One-fourth plus one-fourth equals one half, two-eighths equals one-fourth, one-and-one-half divided by two equals three-fourths, and so on, and so forth. The fractions were written on the board, no one knew what the practical application in life was. Decimals and percentages made a bit more sense because money is spelled as decimals and grades were computed in terms of percentages. But that was all.
But fractions? I wouldn’t learn the value of fractions until I started cooking. Most recipes for cupcakes, for instance, yield 18 to 24. And that’s too much for a family of four. So I learned to divide the amount of ingredients. If a recipe yields 24 and it calls for two-and-one-half cups of sugar, how much sugar do I need if I want to bake only eight cupcakes?
There is a food blogger, Stef of Stefoodie, who home-schooled her children and
thought taught them math in the kitchen. I knew her from way back… back when the Lasang Pinoy project was in full bloom. It was by measuring, adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing amounts of ingredients that her children learned their fractions, decimals and percentages for just about every unit of measurement — for weight, width, height, volume, mass…
I compare her style of teaching math to my own education and I feel sad for myself and for others like me who had to memorize the multiplication table in order to pass but without really understanding its relevance or importance in real life.
When Sam and Alex were in grade school, I was so disgusted with the education they were getting that I actually entertained thoughts of home-schooling them. That was before I discovered that most people who home-school their children do so for religious reasons. Since part of the home-schooling strategy is to network with other home-schooling families, well, to make a long story short, Sam and Alex went on to get a regular education.
The sad part is that, like me, they never really learned to love math and science — not because they weren’t interesting and useful subjects but because the very theoretical school curriculum made them boring.
The upside is that their attitude will change. Is already changing. Sam is on her third year in Photography and part of learning photography is to learn about lights, shadows and colors. That is science. Distances, shutter speeds and aperture values are measured in numbers. That is math.
Alex is taking up Technical Theater and there is even more science and math in her course because sounds and lights are measured and mixed.
As for me, I am learning to appreciate science and math more and more each day. In the kitchen. And whenever I see Alton Brown’s Good Eats.
I learned about specific gravity (apart from the things memorized from textbooks) when Speedy was first learning how to make layered cocktail drinks. And it’s really exciting when layers are formed quite unintentionally and unexpectedly as what happened when I was making the chocolate and amaretto coffee in the photo above.
As for biology and anatomy, I’ve learned more about animals and plants in the kitchen than I ever did from grade school through college. I’ve learned about eggs…
… including premature chicken eggs — a delicacy occasionally sold in the wet market by vendors of native chickens.
Chemistry and physics, languages totally alien to me when I was in high school, has become things of curiosity and adventure with processes like emulsifying, curdling, searing, frothing and watching dough rise. Simple everyday occurrences that illustrate science so wonderfully. If only traditional education were more imaginative… *Sigh*