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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Sunday, June 14, 2009
Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road?
Perhaps the most fraught area parents face in raising their kids are meal times, when children bemoan their misfortune at not being cast in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and parents resort to the kind of plea bargaining that would raise the eyebrow of even the most seasoned judge.

"C'mon Johnnie, just eat your broccoli and we'll take you to Disneyland."

It's war out there and neither side is taking prisoners.

A fair bit of the fight is not really about the flavour or texture of food, rather, it's about control. Think about it, young people, especially those under, say, ten, don't experience much sense of control over their environment, but soon discover that what they are eating is of great importance to their parents or carers along with the sense of power which stems from that.

Rarely is it that they find this or that vegetable repulsive, but that there is so much more to gain in refusing a food that is of no consequence to them if they eat it or not.

In our house with a nine year old, dinner time is often an exercise in absolute power and as parents, we have to find different strategies to overcome our dinner plate dictator.

Playing with textures is one way to handle the situation, shredding, mashing and pureeing often times gets the job done. But just lately, we have discovered a new, somewhat shameful, method.


Yep, we tell bald faced lies to our own flesh and blood and I'm becoming increasingly worried that it's all going to come and bite me on the bum one day.

Our dilemma is this. M has discovered that some forms of meat come from rather young, okay, let's say baby animals and in a kindly display of empathy, is now refusing to eat veal or lamb or anything that suspiciously could be mistaken for such, which just about covers all forms of meat.

The one meat that she does love however, is chicken, so magically, just about everything she eats now is chicken - only it's not.

Lamb cutlet...chicken on a stick, veal shank, why that's just an overblown drumstick, cubed pork becomes chicken pieces, though both happily and sadly, M knows exactly how good crackling is!

My problem is this, it cannot go on forever; one day she'll be able to recognize all the various cuts, M must be absorbing something from all those regular trips to the butcher's shop.

When that happens, I'm sure I'm going to hear something like this...

"Dad, you don't even know what a bloody chicken is, are you sure you really know how to cook?"

I'm practicing my shamefaced look.
  posted at 8:46 pm

At 12:59 am, Blogger MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Feel like I've told you this before but as an 8th grader our younger son announced at the dinner table one evening "Mom, I'm a vegetarian now, don't give me any more meat." ... OK so I dutifully came up with veggie kinds of dinners and breakfasts and sent chicken sandwiches for lunch to school with him. Four days later he came home and said " Mom I'm a vegetarian I don't eat chicken."
So maybe you have a little time with your 9y/o ;)

At 7:20 pm, Anonymous Nick Soma said...

WOnderful, all parents undergo with this kind of problem in a child's stage of growth. Understanding them and see how to handle your child will be the best thing to do.

At 9:11 pm, Anonymous Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

You will learn to live with the guilt, and your daughter will soon enough come to her own realization about food. (And honestly, it's hard to criticize when she doesn't want to eat baby animals, isn't it?) Then she will be able to "educate" you, and you will accommodate her food preferences, and all will be happy!

At 9:11 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi tanna, it's great to see them grow up and start making there own choices and be wise enough to know the difference in things. We do eat vegetarian meals too, but M can be pretty choosy about those too!

Hi nick, I know we haven't been singled out, the hard part for us is how her tastes change constantly. A couple of years ago polenta was her favourite food, now she won't touch it.

Hi lidia, guilt, oh don't go there!!! I totally get the baby animal thing and certainly won't be telling her that chickens are three of four months old at most. I did hear some young people in the supermarket discuss not buying baby animals one time, it was fascinating, but I do love lamb and veal.

At 1:37 pm, Blogger Gigi said...

Poor Neil! Perhaps you can take the same approach that Captain Renault did in the film "Casablanca" (I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!)

As in, "Honey, I am shocked, shocked to find that there is veal in this Ossobucco!..." And then, of course, the shamefaced thing. :)

At 7:32 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good luck! ;-)


At 11:06 pm, Anonymous spice and more said...

Hah! its great to hear that we are not alone. My soon-to-be 9 year old son has also recently declared himself to be vegetarian. Plenty of cajoling, bribery and outright deception going on in our house too! I was vegetarian for many years so can certainly empathise with him....but given that I am the one who will have to cook an additional meal after a rushed day of work...hmmm....deception comes into its own!

At 1:37 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Murray,

I have been trying to send you an email, but the address on the right side of the page doesn't work. Would you check it, or send me an email to confirm? Thank you!
My email: babs99mail-melbourne@yahoo.com

At 7:30 am, Blogger Caleb said...

I found your food blog going through a few links. Glad I ran into it. Didn’t know that the food blog/recipe community was so big online. I love your posts!

I was wondering if you would like to exchange links. I’ll drop yours on my site and you drop mine on yours. Email at ramendays@yahoo.com or stop by my site and drop a comment. Let me know if you would like to do a link exchange.


At 9:18 am, Blogger Caleb said...

I found your food blog going through a few links. Glad I ran into it. Didn’t know that the food blog/recipe community was so big online. I love your posts!

I was wondering if you would like to exchange links. I’ll drop yours on my site and you drop mine on yours. Email at ramendays@yahoo.com or stop by my site and drop a comment. Let me know if you would like to do a link exchange.



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