I was lucky, Tatjana was always pretty willing to try anything as long as it didn’t swim in the sea before landing on her plate. Most children do object to certain things, but as we grow older our taste buds mature.
We all have things on our “YUCK” list, but should you listen or should you encourage trying new things? I go by the situation – if it is a vehement reaction I’ll leave it alone – I’d rather not force feed anyone as my grandmother did me those awful pickled beets I’m still whinging about decades later. They were put in front of me (with nothing else) meal after meal until I finally gagged them down.
All I can think is “yuck, beets!” Now I love them
A polite “no” and I might try to reason that they don’t have to eat it, but just try ONE bite – after all, how do you know you don’t like a fresh roasted beet when all you’ve ever tried are pickled ones from a can?
Here’s Lane Morris Buckman’s struggle with the finicky eaters in her household, and how she has employed the Personal Chef Approach™ to help:
One of my earliest memories is of sitting on the floor, under the dining room table at our house in Colorado (which puts me at between 2 and 3-years-old) picking up individual sweet peas I had thrown from the table, thinking my mother was the meanest woman in the world for trying to make me eat them. I still hate sweet peas and will not eat them. My husband hates corn, cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. My son, who is five, reviles most vegetables, though he will eat a carrot now and then. He has this funny, almost phobic reaction to anything green. Even a flake of parsley is enough to make him recoil in horror. He gets the drama from his mama, as his daddy just pretends things he dislikes aren’t there.
I thought I could get tricksy on them, and bought two of those How To Hide Vegetables In Hamburgers recipe books. I loved the taste of the food with the added veg. My family? Well, they thought I was the meanest woman in the world for trying to make them eat something that wasn’t strictly a meat or a starch.
These are my challenges cooking for my family (* = My son won’t eat it ** = My husband won’t eat it).
- The husband will not eat any sort of roast or stew meat–hates the texture.
- He also dislikes ground beef unless it is in hamburger form.
- None of us like turkey, though I will abide it, and I just tell my son it is chicken and he eats it happily enough.
- I won’t touch sausage since reading The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair in high school, and I’m weird about shrimp, but I’ll eat them.
- My husband loves potatoes in most forms, but my son dislikes anything other than mashed potatoes, and ever since I put the Great Northern Bean and Cauliflower puree into a batch of them, distrusts my offerings.
- Neither of the boys really care for soup.
- If it comes from a crock pot or slow cooker, forget it. My husband thinks it’s too mushy.
Basically, I am left with the following options:
- Chicken breast fillets
- Some fish (tilapia and salmon, but only restaurant style fillets of salmon)
- Pork chops
- Any kind of steak-y beef
- Ranch style beans (gag!)
- Salads* (my husband loves a good salad)
It gets frustrating, but as my skills as a cook improve, I have been able to get creative. I might cook a meal of some seasoned chicken and do asparagus, carrots, and beans for sides. I serve the asparagus and carrots to myself, the asparagus and beans to my husband, and the beans and carrots to my son. I always try to cook a little extra chicken for those nights when my son looks at the meatballs and says, “Does this have any green in it? I know you tried to put green in it before. I’m not actually hungry.” Seriously, they haven’t forgiven me yet and that was months ago!
The PCA™ keeps everyone happy
One of the bonuses of the Personal Chef Approach™ is that we don’t all have to have the same thing for dinner. If I want the flank steak, but my husband isn’t feeling that, he can have the Tandoori chicken without any extra effort on my part. It also means we can mix and match sides as we please. And, since we instituted the “one bite of everything or you don’t get to play Wii on Saturday” rule, my son is finding out he likes more food than he thought he did.
I’ve got a lot to learn, but I’ve come a long way from the woman who once set her kitchen on fire–we’re talking two foot flames–boiling water.
Too bad you didn’t have a dog to feed your sweet peas to, Lane. That was my usual trick. My dog was the fastest vegetable disposal in the midwest, and my parents never did catch us. What lengths have you gone to get your picky kids (big and small) to try something new?