Don’t Cook Down to Yourself

Sorry for the lack of post-age recently. We’re slowly gearing up for our yearly vacation, and that has taken up a lot of my brain cells.

I read an interesting post a while ago (Oct 12?! good grief) on Tigers & Strawberries. Barbara wrote about the phenomona of “picky eaters” when it comes to kids. A recent study out of University College in London claims that genetics plays a role in creating picky eaters. Barbara disputes that, arguing that picky eaters are made, not born.

We don’t have children, so I can’t speak from direct experience, but I know that if we did have kids we would try to show them a world relatively free of “junk” food. If we didn’t want them eating Cheesy Poofs, we wouldn’t have Cheesy Poofs in the house. Simple. Once the kid was older, we’d have discussions about why some foods are treats, only to be eaten on occasion. I know that with marketing and outside influences, it’s getting harder and harder to control exactly what foods a kid will eat, but at least those first few years will be totally in your control.

My mother likes telling the story about me from when I was very young – one or two years old. (I don’t remmeber this at all, but who argues with mom?) My parents were your typical 70’s hippies, and my diet consisted of lots of vegetables and grains purchased from the local food co-op. Sweet was fruit, and chocolate meant carob. My parents left me in the care of a friend one night, and they said that I could have a cookie if I was good. When the babysitter tried to give me a cookie, I refused, and demanded that I get an apple instead. (I’m not sure I would do the same thing today, but at least I started off on the right foot.)

Anyway… Enough with the tangent. Barbara linked to another post on a blog written by Hugh Garvey. In it, Hugh advocates not cooking down to your kids, because you never know what they’ll end up loving (like his kids liking anchovies). This was further illustrated a few entries later, where Barbara posted photos of her baby happilly devouring pasta with eggplant, kale and carmelized onion. (That recipe looks fabulous, by the way.)

Eggplant, kale and onion? Ten years ago I wouldn’t have dreamed about eating somthing like that. I would have made a face and walked away, choosing something much more pedestrian. It wasn’t until I got married to a man with very adventurous tastes in food that I learned to at least try something before writing it off, and give it a chance – you never know what you’re going to like. I see people doing that all the time, especially at work. For potlucks, some people will bring in some absolutely yummy ethinic dishes: curries, cabbage rolls, or soups laden with strange meats and herbs… And they’ll sit mostly untouched. People will dive into the chili and ham & cheese wraps, but they won’t even think about trying something new. It’s sad, really.


So, next week, when North America is consumed with candy (and the aquisition thereof), take a night to try something new: a meat, vegetable, fruit or a spice that you never would have considered eating before. Even if it’s just something simple that you’ve never had before, like the dragonfruit pictured above, give it a whirl. I’ll try the same thing and post what I had and how I liked it.



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2 responses to “Don’t Cook Down to Yourself

  1. I totally agree! I have refused to “cook down” to my husband’s liking and in turn he has gained a new love for great foods like sushi, sweet potato, oysters and mussels.

    I would be devastated if my children were picky eaters and will be reading alot about how to help them become as adventurous as possible.

  2. I had this fruit before in my country, but since I have been living in Canada, I haven’t had it anymore