Cooking and the Generation Gap

By Sharon Knoll | Bio

Cooking with my daughter, Krista, is bliss. We were making Crabby Crabcakes, an incredible recipe from Mark Bittman at the NY Times. They were 99% crab with a little bit of stuff we purchased at the Queen Anne Farmers Market to hold them together: brand new potatoes baked with olive oil and rosemary, and sautéed summer squash and caramelized onions with  herbs. (Can you stand it? Are you ready to rush out and cook and enjoy the wonderful tastes of fresh grown great food?) 

Our cooking together is like a dance—an intensive information and learning exchange. “Mom, you aren’t doing the onions right, they will never caramelize, this is how I have discovered to do it.” “Mom, you are right, sautéing and sweating the squash and onions gives them a much better flavor.” “Krista, these potatoes are divine. How did you know to cut them this way?  They are so crisp.” “I didn’t know, Mom, just tried it.” And between the lines, the unsaid and heard anyway: “I love you, I love you, I love you. I know you love me.”

Krista is home from work and school for three weeks vacation before she returns to complete her senior year at university. Her major is marketing with a minor in communication. 

How, dear reader, you may be asking, does this tie into Eldering? I had Krista when I was 40, she is now 21. You do the math: I am an elder.

I recently read a report from the Pew Research Center entitled “Getting Old in America”. They had an interesting find on the Generation Gap, circa 2009 USA:

“In a 1969 Gallup Poll, 74% of respondents said there was a generation gap, with the phrase defined in the survey question as ‘a major difference in the point of view of younger people and older people today.’ In 2009, 79% respondents, roughly equal shares of the young, middle-aged and older respondents in the new survey agree that such a gap exists. The most common explanation offered by respondents of all ages has to do with differences in morality, values and work ethic. Relatively few cite differences in political outlook or in the uses of technology.” 

In the interest of science, I asked Krista about this generation gap. In her view, the biggest gap, the most misunderstanding, is in the area of technology. She shared an example regarding her Dad. He had insisted dinner should be at 6:00 p.m. the night before. Krista was involved in a game online that had 10 people get together from around the world to go through a component of the game, and it would not be over until 8:00 p.m. She insisted she could not bail out: she had given her word to 10 people. Her Dad insisted that people she did not know personally and talked to on the internet were not real. Krista’s view, and that of her generation, is internet relationships are real. “We socialize on the internet, we relate on the internet, we hardly ever use the phone. Even Tony and I use the internet more than the phone when we are traveling.” (Tony is her boyfriend, whom I adore.)

I went back to the Pew Report and, sure enough, Krista is in the age group that cites differences in the uses of technology as the main source of the generation gap.

Then we got on to the topic of marketing to Baby Boomers. This was an eye-opener for me. According to Krista and her studies, part of the Boomers profile is that we believe we are important, so therefore we deserve the best. We demand personalized products and are high maintenance.

Now I know I want personalized products, and to me that translates into knowing where the food comes from that we eat, supporting local growers and small businesses (including purchasing healthy food for the cat and cosmetics that are animal-friendly and leave a small carbon footprint) and …

“Mom, you just proved my point!” said my daughter, laughing.

I asked her if she resented, as I have heard from those in their early 30s, paying higher social security taxes than the amount they could save for their retirement?

“Mom, I don’t resent paying such high social security, even though it is a big black hole and I will never see the money. I just say I am giving this to my parents because I love you.”  

I have a lot of thinking to do as a result of our cooking and eating together. So from one high-maintenance Boomer to another, “Bon Appetit!”.

© 2009 Sharon Knoll. All rights reserved.