Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Picky Eaters

Since I devoted my last blog to how much we as a family enjoy the whole restaurant experience and you all know now that I like to cook and am pretty successful at it I thought it was time to clear up the whole misconception that may be out there that I somehow am raising adventurous eaters. 


Before the age of 3 I had a lot of trouble with my tonsils.  This being Romania in the late 60s there was a shortage of oral antibiotics and most of my bouts were treated with antibiotic shots.  The nurse would come to our house and I would hide, the needle was thick and reused (do not gasp...it happened until the end of the Ceausecu regime and led to a host of deadly infections later in the years) and often dull. It was painful and sitting afterward was difficult.  Now as you are reading this you may think I have wandered from the original topic but I have not, just taking a scenic route to the original subject.  This led to my eating very little, mostly mashed potatoes with a boiled egg mashed in them (still a comfort food I love). This also led to my parents not forcing me to eat anything that I did not want to.  This was no small feat in a country plagued by food lines.  Once in the States I usually ate what my Mother had cooked for the family and the rule was I had to try everything, not make a face (this was met with punishment) and not complain.  My Mother, a full time working Mom, was a master of making meals during Sunday that would last us through the week and she often made things for me on the days I may not want to have the same thing they were eating. I still cannot stand those hairy, slimy vegetables, took me years to learn the English name, like okra and do not like peas (a staple in our house in a stew) or quince (cooked with meat...raw fruit not bad).  I did eat and still do, much like many non-US born folks, organ meats.  The aversion seems to be very big to these in the US and I assume it is because when meat is cheap and plentiful you do not learn to eat the whole animal for economic reasons.  


So it is no surprise to me that my sons are picky eaters.  I often make dinners for them that differ from ours.  Their repertoire is limited to organic Bell and Evans chicken nuggets (they do not like the pre-made kind and these you have to cook), hot dogs, pizza (home made with me or bagel type), pasta of any kind with butter and cheese, and fish sticks.  We rotate these a lot during the week.  Yet they are gastronomic picky eaters as they prefer fresh pasta to dry, they only like good Parmesan cheese and preferably fresh grated, Manchego cheese, pesto sauce (home made), peanut butter with Nutella sandwiches and fresh bakery breads with good butter.  They also will eat the same thing as us when we really feel they are not giving the meal a chance since we are pretty sure they will like it (we have a good track record of being told the stuff is "not as bad as I thought" with this one).  I know many people are appalled that I give them choices at night and that I do not force them to eat whatever we do.  Part of this is because as a working Mom who is tired it is easier to give in than to fight ....trust me I have tried both.  Part of it is that they really do not eat unhealthy meals and are in good shape according to their pediatricians.   Mostly it is because in my own childhood I ventured very little and yet as an adult am by far one of the more adventurous foodies I know.  If they do not expand their palates it will be a shame as I think they will miss out on a host of diverse delicacies.  I also prefer to make food something they enjoy as well making the time when we share meals one where there is boundless conversation even when their menu is limited. 


Don't want to argue, I don't want to debate
Don't want to hear about what kind of food you hate
You won't get no dessert 'till you clean off your plate
So eat it!
—"Eat It" by Weird Al -- NAHHHH not in our house

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