By Kohar Bayizian
Having just started a part-time job in a great restaurant on Bell Boulevard’s “Restaurant Row,” I’ve been doing a lot of walking and driving past all the other eateries on the street. It’s almost like being on a world tour since there are so many types of cuisines, including Chinese, Mexican, Italian, Thai, American and probably 10 others.
I recently read a statistic that on average, 50 percent of all Americans eat out once a day. And from my experience with my friends and family, restaurant food — even fast food — is getting better and in some cases healthier.
I guess the trend nowadays is to cook less and eat out more. This could be that over the last few decades women have become an important part of the workforce and thus have had a lot less time to spend in the kitchen slaving over new recipes and perfecting old ones. Plus, people seem busier and have less time to cook meals for company and even family.
In my house, food was a big part of family fun and hospitality. It could be that growing up Armenian-American was the reason, but I think breaking bread together is one of those universal, human experiences.
In my family, learning to cook was considered an important skill. When I was only 8 years old, my brothers and I got a few lessons from my grandmother, who is famous in the Armenian world for her numerous cook books.
She taught us how to cook everything from rice pilaf to meatballs and spaghetti to Jello. My other grandma, a great cook, also taught me lots of recipes. Thanks to her, I’m pretty comfortable cooking with ingredients such as yogurt, Swiss chard and cumin, as well as stuffing vegetables and rolling out dough. This is not exactly what they taught us in PS 203 after-school cooking class.
So, from early on I was taught that food and being able to prepare it is a very necessary element in being a well-rounded person, someone able to take care of herself (or himself — my brothers are in on the laundry duties and cooking too). But it’s amazing how few people my age can put together even the simplest meal.
Maybe high schools and colleges should start requiring a life-skills class; you know, the class my mom knew as “home economics.” There’s still a lot to be said for a home-cooked meal. Let’s not give up just yet.