About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Monday, August 25, 2008
Food Fighters
Our daughter M is very passionate about her food. Perhaps not in the same way I am, or even you, gentle reader, just in a very particular way about which foods she will and won't eat. For instance, in a previous post, there was her distaste for apples, in any way shape or form and her ability to sniff out any attempt to hide or disguise said fruit would make her the envy and peer of many a truffle hound.

In fact M won't eat any fruit with but just one exception --raspberries, which is one of the reasons why we like to pick-our-own, it's way cheaper than the tiny, puny punnets on sale.

It wasn't always like this. In her early years, M pretty much ate whatever we put in front of her, even, surprisingly, fermented pickles. But there comes a time when kids start to realize that they can control what they choose to eat and get a heady whiff of the conscious control of power over their parents.

Mealtimes can then become like trench warfare, with parents as the hapless soldiers, forced to leave the safety of the trenches and out into no-man's-land to face withering bursts of machine gun fire from the muzzles of their very own children. Like trench warfare, there are no winners.

Far better for parents to become guerrilla fighters with all the sneakiness that entails, ambushing kids with healthy choices at every opportunity and even starving the enemy out, it is amazing what a hungry child will eat as opposed to one who has been snacking.

But the best weapon in a parent's armoury is patience. What is too horrible to be eaten one day can decisively turn heavenly the next. Time can often solve what a war-weary general using full frontal assaults cannot.

We were sitting at the table a couple of Sundays ago, my wife and I with bacon and eggs, M with her cereal and milk. She suddenly reached out and grabbed a rasher of bacon, ate some and announced, "I like bacon!" I bet my face was a mirror of the stunned look of my wife's. We had tried, not too hard, to get M to sample our Sunday breakfast, to no avail. Perhaps she now realized the meaty strips she happily wolfed down in pasta alla carbonara was pretty much one and the same as that resting on our plates that morning.

Even though she now eats bacon, M is yet to make the connection between the silky smooth egg sauce of that same pasta dish and the look of a poached egg staring at her with its yellowy eye.

It may not seem to some that eating bacon would be cause for celebration, but to us it is, M's taste is maturing. What is a small leak in the dyke wall may soon become a torrent. Maybe, just maybe, our dinner table can become all quite on the western front.

We still need help with bedtime though.
  posted at 12:18 pm

At 4:01 pm, Blogger Ange said...

I know how you feel. Chloe turned from a baby who would eat pretty much anything we gave her to a very fussy toddler. So far the only thing she has never said no to is 'chippies' which unfort her grandma got her onto a t a ripe young age! I however will perservere & continue to think of meals I can cook for all of us that I hope she may like too, as you say, one day....

At 7:31 pm, Blogger MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

You just say it so well Neil! What a great analogy!

At 7:50 pm, Blogger Dani said...

One word for you. Scramble.

Even Son and Heir who eats nigh on everything is not jiggy with egg yolks, but when they're mixed in they may as well not be there...much like in carbonara.

disclaimer: he won't touch an orange vegetable with a barge pole.

At 9:33 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You DO have cause to celebrate and yes, patience IS a virtue, especially in the realm of food fighters. ;-)

Thanks for stopping by. You had me ROFLOL! at your comment. Too funny.


At 12:55 pm, Blogger Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Kids' taste buds are a total surprise, aren't they? I think it's all about making their own decisions. They don't want to eat something because you want them to do it. When they're ready, they try on their own.

At 2:27 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, my 15 year old stepson asked on the weekend where I keep the wakame - long strands of really seaweed-y looking seaweed for the hard-core seaweed enthusiast - and how long it needs to soak before he could make it into a salad.

He was a confirmed hot dog and tuna pasta boy when I met him.

Patience really IS key.

Who knows what she'll gravitate toward next!

At 2:32 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi ange, ah, grandparents. Was listening to the radio today when one of the presenters (Dicko) told a tale of the grandparents looking after their young child. When she came back, insisted on diet coke in the bottle, cos that's what gran gave her!

Hi tanna, it just so feels like that sometimes. We're lucky she eats some vegetables though.

Hi dani, I can report she hates scrambled eggs...well, not really, because she's never tried them and doesn't seem likely to for a decade or so!

Hi paz, oh yes, I'm a well seasoned campaigner, guerilla fighter extrodinaire! Won't try her with duck very soon though.

Hi lydia, spot on, we just need patience and a soupcon of guile don't you think?

At 2:47 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi lucy, didn't mean to miss you out. That's very impressive, my other daughter is into wakame as well, who knows? Getting M to eat tuna pasta would be a good first step, she didn't touch it the other day. Funny how the benchmark shifts isn't it?

At 6:53 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your last problem: put the bacon under the pillow!

At 1:19 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi kitchen hand, hmmm, not a bad idea at all, maybe that's because I don't usually wash the sheets!

At 11:55 pm, Blogger Jeanne said...

Great post. I've watched friends go through all sorts of skirmishes with their kids about eating and you are right - patience is the way forward. No amount of yelling, threatening or bribing will help. When I was 2 my parents took me on a weekend cruise. The entire time we were on the boat I ate 5 olives. Nothing else interested me, including the extensive kiddie menu. My father told my mother to stop worrying - most toddlers will start eating again rather than starve to death - and he was right!

We were never forced to eat anything, or to empty our plates as children and I think as a result my brother and I have a far healthier relationship with food than many people I know.

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