Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Food and Me

I grew up one of those kids who would eat anything (well, I did draw the line at hard boiled eggs and liver, and there were things I wasn't incredibly thrilled with, like lima beans and shad roe). I ate lobster and clams and okra without demur. My mother, a quite good cook, didn't much like cooking, but I did. Teaching myself to bake fairly challenging things like brioche and croissants, to frost cakes and bake bread, was one of my adolescent rebellions (I recall a flush of power when, at age 13, I realized that if I was hankering for biscuits there was nothing to stop me from going down to the kitchen and making them...with great power comes great responsibility or great weight gain, your choice). I liked to find an interesting recipe and try it out.

And then I married a recovering picky eater. And then I had kids. It isn't just that my daughters are picky eaters. They're both working on it, and each one manages to try new things from time to time. But each one of them is picky in a different way from the other. This afternoon I had one of those rides in the car with the kids. "What's for dinner?" "I'm thinkin' meatloaf," I say casually. The younger one, Emphatic Girl, yells "Yay!!!" Sarcasm Girl sighs heavily. "Meatloaf isn't very...celebratory. I thought we were celebrating." (Tonight is the 2 year anniversary of our move to San Francisco from New York). "Okay," I say carefully. "What were you thinking of, celebratory-wise?" Sarcasm Girl dithers--when not in full sarcasm mode she is prone to dithering. "Hamburgers!" she says at last. From the back seat, Emphatic Girl wails "I HATE HAMBURGERS." I think over the contents of the refrigerator and what can be done with them without actually going to the market. "How about spaghetti and meatballs?" I suggest. "Yummy!" says Sarcasm Girl. But Emphatic Girl is dismayed. She loves all pasta except spaghetti, due to the treacherous nature of spaghetti, eating-wise. This turns into a fight between the front seat passenger and the rear-seat passenger, at which point I suggest heavy-handedly that perhaps NO ONE NEEDS TO EAT TONIGHT.

To say this leeches much of the joy from the creation of meals is only to say sooth. They must eat, of course. And I, as the designated Mama must feed them. I'm thinking okra, with a side order of shad roe...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow. are your children aware of how lucky they are? when i was a kid, my mother cooked dinner. she chose. we ate it. the end.

and i actually really like her logic: "if i'm cooking, i want to make food *i* like to eat." we had a lot of liver.

10:22 AM  
Blogger Madeleine Robins said...

I was almost an omnivore, but I'd have gone hungry on liver nights, I gotta say. My children do not, I suspect, realize that they are lucky. Spouse, recovering from his picky-eaterhood (and closing in on 50...isn't it about time?) is more sympathetic to their pickyness than I am, but he has been cracking down on grumbling, which I do appreciate.

12:24 PM  
Blogger sdn said...

(that was my comment above, btw.)

how do other families handle this, i wonder. why did you choose to do it this way?

7:54 AM  

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