The other night, I was making Peekaboo Pasta, a dish all three of my kids love and call a favorite. It’s a winner for all — it’s simple to make and loaded with fresh vegetables. As I was chopping the zucchini and dicing yellow squash, my daughter Sofia came into the kitchen and asked if she could help. Of course I was thrilled to have help, but I was most excited by her interest in cooking with me.
She then said something that I found incredibly powerful for a nine year old girl. She told me that she wanted to cook with me so that she could make this dish for her children so that they could then someday make it for their children. It was remarkable to me that at such a young age, she understood the role food and cooking play in shaping family traditions. As someone who learned a ton about cooking from my Dad at a young age, I opened my arms wide and welcomed her in. As I chopped, she carefully stirred garlic and various vegetables in the wok. And as we cooked together, she couldn’t help but ask me questions that would help her understand the dish she was creating.
“Who came up with this dish?” she asked. When I said I did, she was so pleased. “Who named it?” she probed. She beamed when I told her it was me. “Why did you name it Peekaboo Pasta?” she wondered. In answering, I realized something that I hadn’t ever thought much about. There was indeed a story behind the naming of their favorite pasta, a simple yet significant one that would now get carried through the generations. Someday, this bit or oral history would provide a future branch of our family a glimpse into the life of our family at a certain place in time. As I explained the meaning of this dish, I realized how important each and every moment is in the kitchen with family.
“Here’s why I named your favorite dish Peek-a-boo Pasta when you were only a toddler,” I explained:
Colorful vegetables hidden inside the tubes of pasta peek out at you just before you take a bite. They are playing peek-a-boo just as you open your little mouth to swallow them. Eating these tender morsels becomes a game as you try to catch glimpses of green and yellow peeking out at you as you’re about to swallow.
Thank you my dear Sofia, for your inquisitive mind and for cooking with me!