The Young Experimenters With Food

These are four separate stories connected by a common theme: food.

Part one – Paul and the banana

Paul one day asked Mum, “Can I have a banana?” Not finding any reason why not, Mum supplied the requested food item and left him to it.

To Mum, all seemed fine, and she continued on with whatever she was doing. However, several hours later she made a discovery. On the inside of a kitchen cupboard, securely fastened with sticky tape, was a banana peel.

She located the likely offender, and asked the obvious question. “Paul, did you tape the banana peel to the inside of the cupboard?”

“Yes,” said Paul.

“Why?” asked Mum.

“Because I couldn’t be bothered throwing it in the rubbish bin.”

Part two – Paul and the milk

Imagine this scene of domestic happiness. The family was sitting behind the kitchen bench, cheerfully slurping our porridge for the morning meal. Suddenly, a demand issued from a member of the bench.

“Mum, I want some milk!” That was Paul. He was still too young to do the pouring himself.

“Just a minute,” said Mum. This is a phrase she often used, or so it seemed to us. Well, it seems Paul wasn’t prepared to wait a minute on this occasion. He eyed the milk carton, and then decided he was going to do it himself.

Recall that I said earlier he was still too young to do the pouring himself. Paul had a basic concept of physics – in this case, that if he inverted the milk carton, gravity would draw the exact quantity of milk required out of the carton and into his bowl. He even understood the necessity to hold the milk carton above the bowl.

Sadly he was wrong in his belief that the exact quantity of milk required would pour out. He carefully inverted the milk carton above his bowl, and the carton’s entire contents poured out – the majority of a one-litre carton. As the bench top shimmered in a pool of white liquid, the expression of shock on his face was sublime.

I think Paul learned from this early childhood event, because I have noticed him pour milk successfully several times since.

Part three – Paul and the lemon

One day, once again Mum was innocently minding her own business, when Paul came along with another request.

“Mum, I’d like a lemon.”

“A lemon? Are you sure?”


I think Mum must have decided that some things were best explained by experience itself. So she gave Paul a lemon. He took it and wandered off to some distant part of the house.

Even now it astonishes me that Mum didn’t discreetly follow him to see what happened next. It will be forever unknown, because she didn’t and Paul refuses to discuss it.

However, what we do know is that a while later, Paul came back to Mum, handed her a small fragment of lemon rind, and said, “I can’t finish the rest.”

Part Four – Craig and the Mixed Drink

“Mum,” I said one day, “can I have a drink?”

“Okay,” she said, “what would you like?”

Perhaps I hadn’t expected to be given a choice, or perhaps I just decided that it was time for a change. In any case, on this occasion I mused on the full range of possibilities before me, and made my decision.

“I’d like orange juice and milk.”

Mum contemplated this request. “What, mixed together?”

“Yes. Mixed up together.”

“No, you wouldn’t want that.”

“Yes I do.”

“No, you really don’t want that. It won’t taste very nice.”

But I wasn’t going to let Mum’s groundless assertions dissuade me. “Yes, that is what I want,” I insisted.

At this point, Mum must have decided there was nothing quite like experience to firmly illustrate what might otherwise be a theoretical concept – even if it required the sacrifice of some milk and orange juice.

So she procured the required ingredients and prepared my mixed drink. She handed me a nice tall glass of a sort-of-orange fluid with whitish chunks of curdled milk gently drifting around amongst swirling creamy ooze. It did not look very nice at all.

As I peered at my requested concoction, I realised something. I realised that Mum had vast hordes of knowledge that I could only begin to dream about. Later on in my life it further developed into the realisation that mothers have the privilege of being gifted with all knowledge. Well, maybe not all, but pretty close to it.

Thankfully, she didn’t make me drink it.

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