Rites of passage, why do they matter and why am I pondering
them? And what the hell are they? The ever helpful internet tells us that a rite of passage is a ritual event that marks a person’s progress from one status to another. It is a universal phenomenon which can show anthropologist what social hierarchies, values, and beliefs are important in specific cultures.
Well I really don’t give a shit about anthropologists, but food is so connected to the specific cultures and traditions of a kitchen that it is no surprise that during the season of graduations I would be pondering not only my personal rites of passage but those of my students as well.
Some of the rites of passage I’ve lived through and that are popping up in my mind like flashcards are…
- My first special personal moment, if you you know what I mean
The first time I snuck a peek at my dad’s playboy
My first boilermaker
The first time I got to experience the finer attributes of a female
When I got my own playboy subscription (which is now a collection)
Killing an animal that could kill me
Jumping out of an airplane
My first rush on the hotline
Graduating from college
My first wedding
My first divorce
My second wedding
The birth of my daughter
The day I failed my CEC test
The day I passed my CEC test
The first time I stood in front of my class
Speaking at graduation as a faculty member
I could go on and on but what I really want to talk about is the rites of passage for my students. With graduation this month and our pinning ceremony the night before, I have found myself celebrating the achievements of my students. As a teacher, nothing makes me prouder than to see, firsthand, their rites of passage.
As students progress through my program their rites of passage may look something like this….
- Survived 105…learned knife cuts without losing a finger
Made mayonnaise without making anyone sick
Made it through 115….understanding the importance of mother sauces
Delivered a perfect tourné
My first artisan bread
The first time I was able to make fondant work
Discovered the importance of world cuisine
Butchery…who knew I could take a whole animal and turn it into table fare
The first time I made a classic dish and had Chef tell me it was perfect
As my students leave graduation and head out into the culinary world, I wish them all the best in their new chapter of life and may they recall their culinary rites of passage with the pride and honor they deserve.