Being cooped up at home with nowhere to go and little to do is hard on young children and teenagers alike. Which is why cooking offers a fun, creative outlet that also serves as an important life skill.
For young children, there is the innocence of “helping” in the kitchen.
“I like cooking because I can help mummy as she is always cooking alone, ” says sweet little eight-year-old Lea Katrina Thomas.
For 10-year-old Goh Hao Er, cooking during the lockdown has been something he enjoys immensely because he gets to “play with food.”
Nine-year-old Trinayani Manoharan meanwhile says she loves preparing meals because she gets to eat it all up afterwards and she has something interesting to do during the lockdown.
“I enjoy cooking and baking because it is very fun to make things and it’s fun to eat it also. But I don’t like the cleaning up part, although I have been helping with that too, ” she says.
For older children who are able to cook independently with limited parental supervision, cooking during the lockdown has afforded a sense of pride.
“I find cooking both relaxing and rewarding because I get to feed my family, which I enjoy, ” says 14-year-old Omar Faruqi.
As a result of his cooking sessions during the lockdown, Omar says his skills in the kitchen have exceeded some of his friends.
“I do know friends who cook better than me, but I think my basic cooking knowledge is now better than some of my friends, ” he says humbly.
Nur Syadiyah Zahra, 14, meanwhile enjoys getting inventive in the kitchen when she and her older brother are tasked with cooking the family meals, something they have been doing a lot of during the lockdown.
“I enjoy cooking, it’s so relaxing. And I really like how I can experiment with new meals. Like if I make fried rice, I sometimes just look at what’s in the fridge and imagine how it would taste in the dish and then I just add it in.
“In that way, I have made fried rice with ingredients like mayonnaise, miso paste and even seaweed, ” she says.
Arissa Elena Feizal, 11, has discovered a strong passion for baking during the lockdown, a pursuit that her parents have nurtured and encouraged. Her sweet creations like chocolate cakes, kek batik and crème caramel have since become hot ticket items among her family and friends and she even has an Instagram account @Klutzy Kid Baker to highlight her work.
“Usually, when I go to school, I take some of the things I have baked and share it with my friends. So now they are always asking me to bake for them and they pay me for it too!” reveals Arissa.
Arissa is also beginning to realise how useful skills like baking and cooking will be when she eventually leaves the nest.
“I already know how to cook simple dishes so when I am older, I am sure I will be able to make more complicated dishes so I can survive on my own, ” she says.
Arissa’s older brother Aliff Ridzuan Feizal, 16, on the other hand, has discovered how important it is to change the age-old sexist narrative surrounding cooking.
“I enjoy cooking and I strongly believe that cooking is not just for girls. When you are looking for a life partner, it would be helpful to have some cooking skills and your partner will appreciate your efforts in the kitchen. And for me, I want to cook in the future with my future wife!” he says mischievously.
Having had a taste of producing their own meals, many of the kids I spoke to are filled with heady dreams of cooking even more, and have compiled wish lists of things they hope to make during the rest of the lockdown or even in the future.
“I want to cook Maggi mee goreng with lots of spinach, carrots, tomatoes and garlic. It’s one of my favourite things to eat so if I can cook it, I can make it for special occasions like birthdays!” says Trinayani excitedly.
Arissa meanwhile says she dreams of perfecting a chocolate souffle, a pursuit that has so eluded her so far.
“I tried baking it before, but it didn’t turn out quite right, so I am determined to master it, because that was my first fail as a baker, ” she says.
Cheeky Goh loves eating good food and longs to get his hands on some large lobsters, which he plans to grill.
“I want to cook and eat lots and lots of huge lobsters!” he says, laughing.
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