Tuesday, May 8, 2012

There Are No Picky Eaters

There are a slew of publications coming out arguing that French parents are the ones to emulate

I think it all comes down to the fact that the French understand that children are adults in training, so they don't make them into yoizels. They have to be socialized, it is about what the parent wants rather than what the child wants, and they take a more casual, rather than reverential, attitude towards their offspring. 

Take, for instance, Karen Le Billon's experience at a French home. It was naturally understood by the hostess that her child guests would consume what the "adult" fare offered, rather than whine "I don't liiiiike it." 

The phrase "picky eaters" is often used. It's one thing if a child is uninterested in food—then a mother will resort to all sorts of bribery—but if a child doesn't have to be coaxed to eat in general, then the world of food should be made open.

For instance, I thought I never liked blueberries until I actually tasted them—at 18. Same with sweet potato; I abstained for years because of childish whimsy. Although alfalfa sprouts never grew on me. 

Chefs feed their kids from another angle.
“The chef’s approach is much more about bringing children into your world of food,” said Ms. Aaron. "The thing they all had in common was an attitude toward feeding kids that was more engaging, to pique their kids’ curiosity and really share their own pleasure and enthusiasm of food with their kids."
Chef-parents don't think "What can I get my kid to eat?" It's more along the lines of "Here's dinner." 

On a recent visit, my nephew with celiac-disease found himself mulishly facing a bowl of quinoa with sauteed craisins and butternut squash. It is beyond heavenly; I can't stop eating the stuff.

"Try it," I insisted. His lips remained glued together. "You are not leaving this table until your mouth has touched it," I persisted. One lone grain of quinoa was eased onto a spoon, which was mutinously brushed against his tongue. "I tried it," he cackled, then bolted. 

You can run for only so long . . . 


Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

Sadly part of this problem is the prosperity around us. We are in a luxurious position of being able to look at a plate of food and say "No, I want something else" while billions around the world would eat it even after we threw it into the garbage.
Another part of the problem is us. Having raised ourselves on a limited diet and having shunned exotic or interesting foods like the one you described with quinoa, we offer an even more limited variety to our kids.

Princess Lea said...

I'm terrible that way; I'll always clean my plate because of the starving children in India. Sometimes I won't take a portion by weddings on the chance I won't finish it.

I only discovered quinoa recently; I was just willing and able to adapt to something new. Recently a whole host of healthy and nutritious foods have become available, along with the increasing medical data that nutritious eating can stave off practically anything.

Sparrow said...

I hear you Princess Leia, I grew up having to clear my plate. It stuck. MGI, I'm usually up for trying almost any kosher food several times over, just in case.
Have some sympathy for us people who don't like cilantro: that's genetic.

Princess Lea said...

There are people that like cilantro?

FrumGeek said...

I am a very picky eater, though not for lack of trying. Every once in a while, I'll try food I don't like to see if my tastes have changed. Usually they haven't, unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

Yum! that quinoa recipe sounds delicious! Can you post it?

Laura said...

First of all, what is a yoizel?

My son would eat just about anything happily until he went to school and found out that there are yucky foods that kids don't eat. My daughter was taught from day one from her brother about how kids don't eat yucky foods like vegetables. Part of it is exposure, but part of it is socialization.

I keep serving "adventurous food" along with "kid food" hoping sooner or later my kids will cave, but your comment about not trying blueberries and sweet potatoes for a really long time scares me. I didn't realize that they might hold out that long!

Princess Lea said...

Anon: Can do! It's not really very complicated; cook quinoa according to packaging instructions. Add cubed butternut squash and craisins to some water, and cook it for about ten minutes to make them soft. In another pan, sautee finely diced onions with a garlic clove. Add to the onions the squash and craisins, and after they have cooked a little mix that in to the quinoa. Salt and pepper to taste.

I'll try to make up a more official post for it soon.

Laura: In terms of my background, yoizel means something along the lines of making someone sacred or holy without merit.

They can hold out for a looong time. My brother is in his 30's and there are some things he won't touch. You gotta crack 'em now!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recipe!!

Princess Lea said...

You can also do it with sweet potato, or add zucchini as well; there are no rules.