When I was little I got a grand Christmas present: a baking kit. It was a treasure chest of tools and ingredients ranging from a chef’s hat to mixing spoons. To me this was a chemistry set with edible results. I remember that Christmas, making chocolate éclairs and muffins with my grandmother. Her kitchen had a white enamel gas stove much like mine, and a view of her lovingly-tended kitchen garden . Even now I associate the smell of gas with her oven warming up, and can distinctly remember the feel of sun on my face as is streamed in through her window. It’s funny how early experiences so deeply imprint on our psyches, our souls, so that many years later we find ourselves mirroring that behavior.
As I’ve had a loved one teach me to bake, so I teach my daughter. My wife got her a baking kit for her birthday, though Toddler Harbat found it a few months early while poking through the closet. We opened it up and TH’s eyes lit up.
“Let’s make a cake, Babbo!”
“What kind of cake?”
“A cocoa honey cake!”
So began her first project, conceived and executed with very little guidance from me. It takes time looking over the shoulder of a toddler to realize that we adults play too. For me, time in the kitchen working out new recipes and baking bread is still just me the five-year old playing with my baking kit.
In thirty years, I don’t know if Grown-Up Harbat will remember this. But perhaps when she bakes a cake and looks out the window at her garden, she’ll feel warmth in her heart.