This morning, my daughter and I woke up late. My wife and son were sleeping in their bedroom while we were given explicit instructions not to wake them. Since Arrow isn’t sleeping through the night yet, and we didn’t know when they’d be up, I put on Ratatouille to entertain my daughter so my wife could rest. My daughter hadn’t seen this movie before, and she’ll sit in rapt attention watching anything Pixar makes, so it was a good hour or more before she moved again while the movie was on.

Cooking is one of my favorite pass times, doubly so when it is with the help of my family. I’ve always enjoyed the process of making food, ever since I was little. My parents worked late most summers when I was home, so my brother and I often had to fend for ourselves in the kitchen when we were hungry. Following recipes on the back of the box to make some pasta or to make something simple before our parents got home was something we just “did”, because why not? Of course, there were sexist social stigmas connected to cooking enforced by patriarchal elements, but I wasn’t exactly listening over the sounds of eating delicious food that I made myself.

One of the coolest (alternatively hardest, most boring, tedious, most annoying) things about parenting is passing down the foods you ate growing up to your children and discovering the food preferences they have. For example, my daughter Glow dislikes carrots, but loves broccoli. I hated broccoli at her age, and didn’t eat cooked carrots either. She eats non-spicy Kimchi, and lots of other things I had never been exposed to before I got to Korea. I’m sure she eats better, and healthier than I ever did.

Anyway, after watching the movie about a cooking rat, I asked her today what she wanted for dinner. She asked to make pizza with me, which is one of our evening activities when I’m home over breaks. It’s really easy, and cheap, and delicious. She’s the sauce spreading, cheese distributing helper, while I’m the chopping, ingredient selecting, oven monitoring part of the team. We cook in our oven together making pizza once or twice a week, and she usually eats a few pieces with me when we’re done for dinner. I sneak on a few vegetables on the pizza, and as long as it is covered in cheese, she’ll eat it.

I also made a cream cheese ranch dip and set out some vegetables for her to “dip” while we waited for the pizza to cook. Just setting the vegetables out in an accessible tray so that she could mix and match the ingredients to make a selection of small bite sized snacks she liked was enough to get her eating. My mom used to do the same thing.

The challenge of making elaborate Korean food, or something difficult is beyond me. I am able to make something elaborate by bachelor standards, but I know a lot of people with actual cooking skills in Korea that put me to shame. I don’t experiment a lot with different recipes, but if my daughter shows a continued interest cooking with me, I’d be willing to spend a lot of time learning since it is something I enjoy doing with her.