Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Daddy's Little Teacher

“Daddy, can I have miso soup and rice for lunch?”

It was Sunday morning and we were nearly home after attending Sunday school. We would get an hour or so to relax before heading back to church for services. My eight-year old, starving, requested his favorite meal.

“We’ll see,” I said.

I laughed inwardly at his request. It’s not that the request is funny. All kids have a favorite dish of some kind. My kids are no different. However, as my wife is Japanese, she has cooked Japanese food for our kids since they were babies. Their favorite dishes are a slew of items that none of their friends have ever heard of. My 8-year old once invited one of the neighbor kids for miso and rice. (For some reason, the little boy declined.)

My son loves miso soup so much that he follows his Mom around the kitchen whenever she makes it. However, with me doing the honors this Sunday morning, he decided I needed a little help.

We started the rice, tossing a couple of cupfuls in the rice cooker, prepping it, and getting it going. Then it was time for the soup.

“Ok, Daddy. Here’s the pot. Boil some water. Once it boils, we need to put in the fish stock and the miso.” He then retrieved both items from the fridge. “We need a spoonful of this” he added pointing to the stock. “And three spoonfuls of miso.”

“Alright,” I said, letting him take the lead.

As the water came to a boil, my son searched the room. “Dad, we need tofu.”

I checked the fridge and pulled some out. I prepared to cut it when my son stopped me. “Dad, Mom always lets me do it.”

“OK. What should we do?”

“We put it on a small cut-thingy—“

“You mean a cutting board?”

Yes, a cutting board.”

I grabbed a cutting board from a drawer under the stove and handed it to him whereby he dumped the tofu onto the board. “Now, Dad, we do it this way so we can scrape it off the board into the soup with a knife after we cut it.”

I nodded and let him demonstrate. He sliced the tofu into chunks and then checked the pot. “OK, water’s boiling.” He added the fish stock and stirred, making sure it was mixed, then added the tofu. “We let it cook a little, then we add the miso.”

I’d been an observer most of the time. I saw no reason to change. Two huge spoonfuls of miso later, he made an announcement. “Dad, we need to taste it.”

We each had a spoonful. “Good job,” I said.

“Da-a-ad, it’s too salty.”

My wife entered the kitchen at that moment and tasted it herself, and concurred with Julian Child, adding more water to it and suggesting we cook it longer. Finally, he pronounced it ready.

The rice cooker beeped and we sat down for lunch. My little chef, impressed with himself, ate heartily.

“And that’s how you make miso soup,” he said.

I thanked him, recalling days long ago when he was much younger. Maybe one day I’ll actually tell him that I used to make miso soup for him on days when my wife was due home late from the office.

Nah, I’ll leave it like this.


Lydia K said...

I loved this post! My kids eat all sorts of weird things too. My youngest has a passion for natto. You must tell your wife! This toddler of mine may be the only child in North America who likes this stuff.

Walt M said...

Natto is the one Japanese food that I could never get into. (When I lived in Japan, I learned the Japanese word for "nuclear waste" just to describe it.)

I'll tell my wife. She'll be glad to hear it.

Amy Atwell said...

I love these glimmers of family life. Given the chance, I suppose my cats would teach me how to catch lizards.