It sometimes feels as if this generation (at least here in the United States) invented the idea of food, in many ways. Or perhaps ‘re-invented’ might be the better word. There is a sense of unearthing the primal purity of all that is good and fine, of discarding the cheap and common-place, of a moral high ground which exists only in the idea of food-as-excellence, for all of us who are in the know.
I don’t believe it.
But I know many people who do.
Children learning to cook is one area it appears is being ‘re-discovered’. And we not only try to teach our children how to cook (some of us), some of us like to buy them little chef costumes as encouragement. The hats, the jackets, the pristine white! All combine to make a uniform which supposedly demands respect for knowing a trade.
It’s interesting for me, to look at this postcard from 1915 and to sense the underlying feeling of these children, who are obviously learning how to cook, who have also been dressed up in chef whites. There is a different sense held in the picture from 1915 than is held in photos of children costumed similarly, today. Today, the children are proud! Of their chef whites, of the fact that they are learning to cook ‘as a little chef’, of the fact that this is all so much fun!
In 1915, the attitude, described by the postcard, is: “I’m making good.” “I’m working,” is the attitude. It may not be fun, but I will do it and ‘make good’ of myself. The little faces are serious, not coy and delighted.
I’ve tried to translate the back of the card, but can not decipher it well enough to get a translation. Google Translate says it is Albanian. I don’t think so – first because it doesn’t look exactly like Albanian to me, and second because it wouldn’t translate – though I may have mis-spelled the words due to not being able to discern all the letters correctly. If anyone out there reads this and can translate, please do let us know what it says!