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The Buttermilk Lesson, or, if you prefer, The Raw Oysters/Pickled Pigs Feet Lesson

pouring milkHow do we pass on to our children the things we love? How do we help them develop a taste for those distinctive traits that make up our family culture?

Here is a lesson in this from my own childhood.

Imagine this:

A six-year old girl is told she must drink buttermilk.

No one in her family likes it. But since they were all required to drink buttermilk by stern teachers with sour faces (impacted, no doubt, by the buttermilk), she must now experience the unpleasantness.

She tries a sip—and it is worse than she feared!!

It tastes SO awful, yet she has no choice but to drink the whole glass.

Tearfully, whimpering with each swallow, this little one chokes down the most disgusting drink of her entire life.

There is no joy here, only a dismal future of consuming soured milk.

Now, imagine this:

A six-year old girl is told she gets to drink BUTTERMILK with her beloved daddy!

It is initiation day into a very select group of buttermilk-lovers.

Her father shares stories with her of how much he, his brother and his dad LOVED buttermilk when he was growing up, and shesmiling girl can tell he means it because of the delight on his face.

He describes how carefully they would search out the best sources of really thick, wonderful buttermilk…And how they sprinkled just the tiniest bit of black pepper on top to make it perfect.

She takes her first sip of what she knows must be INCREDIBLY wonderful, because her father considers it so. YUM!! It is simply the best flavor she has ever had in her entire life.

There is utter delight, a sense of belonging, a new world of flavor opened up for her. The anticipation of her next glass of buttermilk prompts her to ask, “Daddy, when do we get to have some more????”

I have imagined the first scenario, but I lived the second at age 6, in Miami, Florida.

Do you know, until my husband turned slightly pale when I wanted to buy some shortly after we were married, I had no idea that others did not LOVE buttermilk.

I had the same experience, with that same sense of wonder and initiation into the world of oyster-eating, when I learned to eat raw oysters with my daddy when I was four years old. Hood’s Canal, Washington.

And, again, when I was introduced into the wonders of eating pickled pigs feet with my daddy at age five. Apple Valley, California.

What are the common elements to these three unlikely-to-be-enjoyed-by-a-kid foods?

It’s simple: my father’s passion for them.

He not only loved these foods, he thoughtfully engaged me in the experience, introducing them to me with his own delight and with you-get-to-be-part-of-this-amazing-treat-too stories.

Previously, I shared “What’s In Youboy with glassesr Cupboard?” to bring to light the remarkable wealth of wonderful heritage, experiences, passions, and knowledge each of us bring to our own table—and the powerful antidote this can be to the “comparison trap.” But knowing what you have is only the first step.  The second step is learning how to share it in such a way that our kids think it is FUN!!

The Buttermilk Lesson is a window into how my father shared weird foods with me when I was young in such a way that I totally loved them.

Now, I invite you to consider how you can share what’s in YOUR cupboard so that YOUR kids will love it! 

How can you bring fun, delight, adventure, and engagement to the process?

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September 2022

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