How Did Boomers Learn to Cook?

As we age, we inevitably look back on moments, situations and circumstances and evaluate those that had a lasting effect on our lives. For Mister Boomer, one such situation was the experience of learning how to cook.

By the time Mister Boomer and his siblings reached the age of eight, his parents urged them to first watch them make a Sunday breakfast, then to prepare a breakfast on their own. Once Mister B’s younger sister reached age eight, the kids took turns taking on Sunday morning cooking tasks, with each getting their day to take the lead.

Decisions on what to make were made by consensus. The repertoire wasn’t much, but offered some variety. There were eggs (fried, scrambled and later, omelets); pancakes; waffles; and French toast. Sides of bacon or breakfast sausage would often be included.

The Sunday morning ritual in the Boomer household was in sharp contrast to the daily breakfast routine. Mister B’s father was the first out the door, around 6:30 am, while his mother slept in. Consequently, breakfast for his father was often as many cups of coffee as he could consume in his allotted time, and on rare occasions, a slice of toast with butter. When Mister B was in third grade, he and his siblings were responsible for getting themselves up and out to school. Breakfast in the early years was often cereal and milk, and later, Carnation Instant Breakfast or Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts became part of the routine.

On Sunday, the rules changed. Typically, the day started with early church attendance. Breakfast would wait for the family’s return. After changing out of their Sunday church clothes, Mister Boomer and his siblings would either see what was on TV (like Tarzan Theater), or head to the kitchen if it was their turn. The other two kids would be on dish cleaning duty after the meal.

Mister B and his siblings each had their preferred breakfast to prepare. For Mister B, it was French toast or scrambled eggs. Brother Boomer became adept at eggs over easy, basted with leftover bacon grease from the can kept on the stove, while his sister preferred pancakes or waffles since it was easy to make the batter from the box mix.

In the 1950s, Mister B’s father cooked breakfast as often as his mother. However, the contrast between their two cooking styles could not have been more different. His mother often opted for eggs — fried, scrambled or omelets — with bacon, while his father memorably added beer to the batter to make French toast. He also took a liking to creamed chipped beef on toast in his army days, and would prepare that. No one else in the family wanted to add that to the list.

And so it went until the Boomer boys began high school, and the regularity of Sunday family breakfasts were disrupted by part-time jobs and other things to do.

How about you, boomers? What were your first experiences with learning how to cook?