No lie! This is a rant. Remember, I promised you Recipes, Rants and Reviews. Here it goes!
What message are we giving our children when we feed them differently than we feed ourselves? I can’t tell you how many times parents have asked me for “kid friendly recipes.” What does that mean exactly? When I was growing up everyone in the family ate the same food. We had our favorites for sure, but regardless, we had to try everything on the table. I raised my own children with the same philosophy and guess what? They lived to be productive citizens who are open to many food experiences and are raising children who also eat a broad spectrum of foods.
One of my pet peeves is the “children’s menu” available at many restaurants. Think about the message this sends, “You won’t like this. It isn’t really good so I will order you something else.” Somewhere down the line someone decided that kids will only eat junk food. I notice when a child’s menu is available it frequently lists things like hot dogs, hamburgers, grilled cheese, chicken nuggets, and mac and cheese. This is often true even in finer restaurants. What’s up with that? I understand not wanting to pay for a full adult meal that a child will most likely eat very little of, but why not offer children’s portions of the same food we would order at a reduced price?
Ruth Reichl, author and former editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine, wrote an editorial (Gourmet, March 2007) titled “Teach Your Children Well”. She agrees with me that “the notion that children are a separate species who require a different diet from the rest of us pretty much does away with the concept of the family meal.” How tragic! She goes on to say, “Sitting down to dinner, at any age, should be an invitation to the fabulous banquet that is life. The most important lesson we learn at the table is that great rewards await those who take chances. If little Suzy and Sam get applesauce instead of salad, what we are really telling our children is ‘you won’t like what we are eating.’ ”
Children learn from their parents and one of the things they observe is the way grown-ups eat. This is one of the lessons learned at the family table. So please, share your food and give the message that these are delicious and desirable foods that can be enjoyed by all.
At a recent birthday party for a four year old, I observed the little brother, age 1 year, joyfully eating feta cheese and other strong tasting nibbles. I have never seen these children balking at their food but I have seen them happily eat peppers, tomatoes and other fresh vegetables from the garden. I am sure they do not like everything but they are open to trying new things. It is clear their parents have given them the right message with regard to good food. Good food tastes good! It makes my heart glad to see this.
I write this rant not as a criticism but rather, food for thought. Forgive me my indulgence but I feel it is important to ask yourself “What message am I sending my children?” It is never too late to change the course. The rewards will be great. I promise!
I welcome your thoughts and comments. What do you think?