Move Over Mary Poppins!

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Feeding Frustration

When I was a kid, lunch was a sandwich, some fruit, maybe chips or pretzels or goldfish crackers, milk, and sometimes two cookies for dessert. On weekends, lunch might be leftovers, or soup, or grilled cheese sandwiches. If you'd asked me, I would have said I liked bologna and mayonnaise on white bread, or roast beef and mayonnaise on rye or pumpernickel. I ate whatever my Mom offered. Turkey or ham, or plain cheese - I didn't learn to like cheese on my sandwiches until much later. I liked pickles, too.

SpaghettiO's were a rarity. I never had Kraft Mac until high school.

We were offered snacks once or twice a day. Watermelon was a favorite, as were popsicles if it was hot. Juice was allowed moderation, milk was the beverage of the decade.

I went to public school, and for $0.65 a day (in 1st grade, by 8th it was up over $1.75) I ate in the cafeteria, unless the scheduled offering was truly repulsive, in which case my Mom would pack a lunch. See above for a description.

Dinner was what my Mom was serving. Burgers and steaks and chicken on the grill in the summer. Soups, stews, casseroles in the winter. Roast chicken, vegetables, rice or potatoes on the side. Spaghetti with homemade sauce she made by the vat. I rarely had jarred until after college. Salads. Cheerios and Raisin Bran with milk. Oatmeal. Ice cream after dinner if you ate your vegetables.

And, for the record, Mom worked outside the home part time, took care of us, and kept the house on top of these culinary marvels. I don't have to do half of that at work. I can certainly prepare meals for them. What I can't get their parents to do is change their buying habits.

I cannot grasp the pickiness, even after all these years, exhibited by the Boss kids. They have a rotating menu of about 8 dishes, and unless I do their grocery shopping, we're limited by the same things that end up in the fridge every week - a lot of prepackaged nonsense. They don't like hamburger. They don't like anything but plain chicken breasts, occasionally with garlic and olive oil or some pizza sauce and cheese. Fish? No. They don't like homemade macaroni and cheese, or spaghetti sauce, jarred or otherwise. They don't like cooked vegetables, even when they're crisp steamed. It makes me want to hang up my pans and make them Annies Shells and Cheddar every night and have done with it.

I can live with it, since they're not my kids. What's hard is teaching my own little one to think outside the chicken nuggets package when I can't get the others to eat anything fresh and simple. It's an uphill battle. I do keep trying. But sometimes I just need to whine.

Done now.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh yuck. Picky eaters drive me wild!!!! My upbringing food was pretty much like yours, my mum made it all, canned fruits and veggies for winter and made bread and pickles and stuff. She loved to try recipes from all over the world, too. And we ate what we were served!!! I despair when my oldest offers his kids whatever they want! I refuse to run a catering service, and didn't for my own kids, and won't for his. My sons didn't choose the menu, except when it was birthdays or days they were cooking. And all my boys took turns cooking from the time they were eight or nine. :) I hate when parents discuss their food dislikes in front of kids. And then complain the kids won't eat anything. I didn't learn that my dad hated green beans until I was in my twenties and making dinner for him and mum. He always ate a little bit and we kids were required to try a bit of things even if we didn't like them. Parental dislikes were not discussed in front of us. I could rant for an hour! Sorry. :) This is a pet peeve of mine. My brother and I will eat anything, and so will my boys. Their wives, however, perpetuate the pickiness. Stupid. Stopping now, samm

11/22/08, 11:51 AM  
Blogger brushfiremedia said...

The boss kids sound like a food nightmare. But I'm willing to make some allowances for my own kid. It's all about moderate choices. He's got to try new things. And dinner is normally what's put in front of him. Unless I'm serving that he has tried several times over and honestly doesn't like. My kid doesn't like hambugers. Nor does he like chicken pot pie. Ok, fair enough. He's tried them both on multiple occasions. If I choose to serve something that I know flat out he doesn't like, then I'm willing to cut him a little slack. I do the same thing for my wife, after all. I don't complain when she picks around the radicchio and endive in the salad.

On the other hand, he'll eat a pretty wide variety of foods, so its not to hard to simply choose not to serve chicken pot pie when I could just as easily serve chicken-anything-else. Or salmon. Or baked haddock. Or.

And I don't mind cutting the flowers off the broccoli. He'll happily eat the stems so that's OK by me.

And while he's not yet ready to cook dinner himself (though he does help out from time to time) I think its ok to ask him to choose one meal each week. I don't see why he shouldn't get to have some of the things that I know he really likes. Just not to the exclusion of variety.

I honestly think all kids are picky eaters to some degree or another. Juvenile tastes simply don't develop some of the admittedly odd preferences that older tastebuds enjoy. Push the boundaries, but also have a bit of understanding as well. Its all part of the culinary journey we all follow. 10 years ago I still wouldn't look at a brussel sprout. 5 years ago I wouldn't go near squid. It's only been about 3 years that I enjoy oysters. So I don't think its reasonable to expect my son to like foie gras yet.

11/23/08, 8:03 AM  
Blogger CDG said...

It's hardly about squid or foie gras. It's more about what's available to offer them and then how to use it. They reject outright all but a handful of meal options, and introducing new ones is near impossible since, for the most, part they are not interested in me doing their grocery shopping. Packaged chicken nuggets, Annies mac and cheese, buttered noodles. Rice pilaf. Plain Chicken. Shredded cheese melted in a soft tortilla (what exactly is that?). Steak - that's their one adventurous thing, and they do, for the record like it medium rare and gently seasoned. I'm not saying I loved everything my Mom put down the first time I had it, but I do think it's important not to expect that the world is your restaurant 24/7. Unfortunately, I feel like I'm paid to do exactly that. It's my lack of options that really lies at the heart of this rant. I think I was just ranting. Also, I do cut them slack when I'm there. That's why I'm venting on the ol' blog.

11/23/08, 8:31 AM  
Blogger jen said...

I was brought up with mainly the prepackaged crud and I've made it a point to do the opposite with my kids. And if they don't what I cook- they don't eat. Amazing that they have learned to like it all - or most at least (:

11/23/08, 8:42 AM  
Blogger brushfiremedia said...

My squid and fois gras comment was aimed at the earlier comment that seemed to indicate that there is not room for kids to have any opinion at all regarding food choices. I agree with both momp and samm that in general kids ought to be made to try different things.

But on the other hand, its unreasonable, in my opinion, to continue to feed kids something they have tried on more than one occasion and clearly dislike, just because you can.

Moderation in all things.

(This is clearly not the situation with the boss kids, and I didn't mean to imply that it was.)

11/23/08, 4:58 PM  

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