My mom did just fine in the kitchen. Though she had a limited repertoire and the only spices she owned were salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder and cinnamon, what she cooked, she cooked very well. So it wasn’t her fault I was a picky eater. How picky? So picky that I only grew to be 5’2.” Just kidding. Shortness genes probably factored in, but the truth is I was so picky I hated oatmeal. What’s not to like about oatmeal? (It’s too “wet.”) For breakfast I’d only I eat dry cereal. “Dry” meant that no milk could touch a single frosted flake or the whole bowl would be contaminated!
Most kids LOVE pizza. The cheesier the better. But I’d only nibble the unadulterated outer edges of the crust. I refused to eat bananas, apples or any fruit “with lots of juice” such in peaches, plums or nectarines. Though oranges and grapefruits were perfectly fine with me. Go figure. Canned tuna? OK. Canned salmon? No way!
I’m sure there were times Mom fantasized about what it would be like to cook for a family who appreciated all her clipped recipes from Woman’s Day magazine. But my dad was raised by a mother whose most special meal was boiled, unsalted chicken, so what did he know? And my brothers? Don’t even get me started. One puts ketchup on pasta and the other believes eggplant is carcinogenic.
As someone who now eats all kinds of international cuisines and loves cooking for my family and friends, I totally understand my mom’s frustration.
Parents nurture. It’s what we do. And food is our most obvious way of nurturing our kids. Eat, sweetheart! Eat! But what do you do when your child refuses your food? That’s got to feel like a rejection not of the creamed spinach but of YOU! And don’t believe for a minute that kids don’t realize that a hurt parent who’s probably a bit anxious that little Emily isn’t getting her full spectrum of nutrition is a highly manipulateable parent.
“Ooh, you don’t want the scrambled eggs? Sorry. They’re gone. Instead I’ll make you pancakes. What’s that? The pancakes are too goey? Too chewy? Too round? No worries, sweetie pie. I’ll just dump these and whip up some cinnamon French toast. Pressed flat and super dry just the way you like it. No trouble at all.”
Got a picky eater at your table? Before you pull out (all) your hair, pull up a chair, pour yourself a cup of coffee. Grab a blueberry muffin to go with it and let’s talk about kids and food.
In this week’s podcast I talk with Matthew Amster-Burton, author of Hungry Monkey: A food loving father’s quest to raise an adventurous eater.
Matthew is a food writer based in Seattle. He writes frequently for Gourmet.com, Culinate, Seattle Magazine, and the Seattle Times. He has been featured repeatedly in the Best Food Writing anthology. Hungry Monkey chronicles the early years of his daughter Iris’s life as documented through the lens of their ongoing cooking and eating adventures and mis-adventures.
Listen to my interview with Matthew Amster-Burton right here:
If you have iTunes, you can subscribe to this podcast in the iTunes Store.
Or, you can download an MP3 version here.
Upcoming guests include:
David McQueen, international speaker empowering adults and youth alike on subjects such as leadership, careers and communication skills.
Dr. Elizabeth J. Meyer, author of Gender, Bullying and Harassment: Strategies to End Sexism and Homophobia in Schools
Dr. Karyn Purvis, co-author (with Dr. David Cross, Wendy Lyons Sunshine) of The Connected Child: Bring hope and healing to your adoptive family
*What’s a podcast? “A podcast is a series of digital media files, usually either digital audio or video, that is made available for download via web syndication.” –Wikipedia… So, in this case, there’s an audio file for you to listen to (in addition to reading the above).