As you know, Joshua celebrated his tenth birthday last week. Each birthday seems to bring a new list of things he feels he's now old enough to handle and new deals are made with his father and myself regarding new 'skills' he is allowed to practice in the house.
Since he was four he has shown an extraordinary interest in food. He does have a hearty appetite, which is nothing short of a miracle after living six years with severe food intolerances, but thank God he is better and thank God that his interest in food has increased over the years rather than waned.
Joshua loves food. He loves eating it, he loves watching programmes about it and he loves the idea of handling it. He has recorded all the Heston Blumenthal feast series and kept them on the SKY+ and watches them again and again. He watches The Great British Menu, has been known to follow Masterchef and now and again I find him leafing through my Jamie Oliver book.
Today he asked me for 'a word'. This usually means he has something significant to either ask or report that requires my 100% attention and serious feedback.
He wants free reign to 'experiment' in the kitchen with ingredients of his choice. We discussed his reasons and at what times of the day he'd like to do this and the added responsibilities of handling equipment safely and maturely, as well as not wasting food as our budget is stretched to the limit as it is and food wastage is not on the agenda in this house.
So, we chatted and he assured me his intentions were serious and that he wanted to take a part in cooking dinners for the family. Whilst my heart soared at the prospect of me and his Dad having a night away from the cooker, I must admit there was a side order of panic wondering what the heck we'd be eating each night. Plus I do wonder whether the entire family will be sneaking down at midnight for nibbles not unlike the guy years ago in the R Whites Secret Lemonade Drinker adverts. Only we'd be the Secret Midnight Rumbly Tum Munchers tiptoeing to the larder in search of edible sustenance!
We have now come to an agreement. I like having agreements with the children. It gives them a sense of ownership to their responsibilities and it's easier to hold them to things as they can be reminded that they agreed the deal. So, the deal is that he writes his recipe and method, lists his equipment and shows it to either myself or his Dad for prior approval before going ahead.
Tonight's offering involves peppers, onions, cinnamon, sage, syrup, deep fried carrot and potato strips, chicken stock, a bit of chicken, tomato ketchup, brown sauce and I think some sweet chill sauce. He'll be 'experimenting' tomorrow and has already decided it will be a resounding gastronomic success and that I should be prepared to put it in the recipe book if it works!
I love that boy!