This post belongs to the What if you had a child like me? series.
I know it might sound like a joke, but I do believe that my mom's cooking and my family's eating habits have made my life easier and healthier than it might have been otherwise.
As commonly for autistic people, there are flavours and textures that I simply can't stand, and avoid whenever possible. At the same time, I am not a picky eater, because I do enjoy trying new food, as long as I can guesstimate that it is free from potentially triggering textures or flavours. As far as I know, having been exposed to a variety of home-made food since early childhood, and having a mom who is very stubborn about it - never giving up on everyone eating their due portion, and only at mealtimes - has made me healthy and not picky later. It is all about building good habits from the very beginning, really.
Learning how to cook properly can play a huge part when it comes to sensory issues. Different preparation and cooking methods make the same ingredients acquire different textures or even flavors. The same goes for being able to choose among different varieties of the same ingredient - for instance, different cuts of beef have a different texture, and tomatoes come in different degrees of sour and crunchy. It does take time to learn about all this, but it is worthwhile, because it allows to diminish the need to avoid certain (potentially important) foods altogether because of sensory issues.
The kitchen is also a place of socialization and experimentation. Growing up seeing a lot of things going on there - from a machine turning tomatoes into sauce, to bread growing in the oven, to the wonders of salad spinning - I have come to love not only what I have on the plate at the end, but also the science, history and culture that have made it possible - so much that I regard cooking and food culture as a "special interest" of mine. Regarding the social part, I must point out that since childhood, cooking together has been my favourite bonding activity; in fact, it involves little conversation and much action, with the possibility to get involved at different degrees of cooking skill and capacity of interaction - in the kitchen, there is always something to do.
Having a family member who cooks meals, with dedication and creativity, can thus in my opinion have a great impact on the well being and upbringing of an Aspie child.