A week ago, Shuli and I had participated as volunteers at our sons school. This joint effort involved students from Kindergarten through the third grade.We had the great pleasure of demonstrating how various spices were used in ancient times as dyes and for cooking. Each child was given the opportunity to dye a muslim bag with turmeric,choose from a large array of spices to make their own Havdalah mix, and use a mortar and pestle to grind spices for making Israel's famous za'atar spice blend.The children sprinkled the za'atar mixture over sour cream and olive oil and it was served to the entire school as an accompaniment to their delicious school lunch, much of which was prepared by the students on-site .
The following day when the muslin bags had dried, the Kindergartners filled the bags with their spice blends making their own b'samim bags (same as potpourri bag) for Havdalah, which is a Jewish religious ceremony that marks the symbolic end of Shabbat and holidays ushering in the new week. The ceremony is usually celebrated at home with family and friends and includes three blessings: over wine, spices, and lighted candles.
The whole project turned out so well that it was hard to believe that this was possible with using only spices. The kids were so engaging, especially with crushing the sumac berries with mortar and pestle.There was much excitement at the blending station where the children kept asking to taste and smell the spice blends. They really worked hard to make sure the sumac berries were well crushed.
Shuli and I are so thankful to have been a part of this rewarding experience in working with these wonderful children. Because we are very passionate about spices, we feel it is important to teach young kids how to develop a good sense of smell and taste.As it was, most of the children were quite curious about the zaatar blend, which really impressed me.I recall having noticed two little boys who appeared excited about the spice blend, and it made me feel so lucky to know that Id just introduced them to a new flavor that they didn't know before.
I've always believed that childhood memories of certain cooking smells stay with us forever.At our spice shop, we regularly meet customers who tell us that as soon as they catch a whiff of the spice, it takes them back in time to those sweet childhood memories of home.
It's important to expose our children to these wonderful cooking aromas that, over time, will bring back those sweet childhood memories over and over again.