Pizza and Pasta and Poached Eggs – Oh, My!

Posted by mwallach on January 26, 2012 in My Kids |

Dear That’s Life,
While some do not appreciate children’s literature as a true genre, they would be sadly mistaken. Out of the classics, cult favorites and timeless literary choices I have read over the years, my all-time favorite is Dr. Seuss’s “Green Eggs and Ham.” It is perfectly written, with a cadence so characteristically “Dr. Seuss” that it is an immensely enjoyable story to read aloud. More importantly, however, it teaches a valuable that we live by in my home: always try new foods.

As a self-declared food snob, I have made an effort to introduce foods into our home that others may never even attempt with kids. At a young age, my daughter ate poached salmon and my son asked for bruschetta with goat cheese. Last weekend, my toddler ate farro, gobbling it up as if it were pizza, though she did not care for the red quinoa nearly as much. There are plenty of nights where fish sticks and spaghetti take center stage – and that’s just fine. If I can introduce something a little more adventurous another night, however, I am going to give it a try. The worst that can happen is that someone requests I never make that item again. Tofu was a success, but I have yet to live down the orange poppy seed cake.

I do not understand parents who make numerous dinners each night, acting more like caterers and short order cooks than mothers and fathers. While I often ask my children in advance what they would like for dinner, as cooking something they look forward to makes more sense than fighting with them, preparing more than one meal an evening is not an option. Cereal has become the default choice for those who refuse what has been made. If you are not in the mood for steak, please show yourself to the Special K or the Cheerios. Bon appetit.

Years ago, when packing my daughter’s lunch for school, I asked her if she wanted a pear for snack. She informed me that she only liked her pears one way: poached. Most parents would have been horrified. I was ecstatic.

Buying me a gift is a pretty easy endeavor. Anything food related is a sure fire success. Cooking magazines, kitchen trinkets or even a new knife is good enough for me. As such, my husband has often utilized my affinity for the kitchen as inspiration for creative gifts. One year for Mother’s Day, he gift wrapped course outlines for some cooking classes at a program I enjoy, offering that I choose any two as a gift. Score that one as a grand slam.

Most recently, he bought what turned out to be an excellent Chanukah gift, though I initially had my doubts. After having given him his gift, he told me mine had not yet arrived. It seemed his order from Amazon would be a day or two late. Perplexed, I began to wonder if there really was a method to his madness, as an NCIS boxed set was not what I had expected. Knowing me better than I know myself, the gift arrived and it was perfect. Two slabs of pink Himalayan sea salt arrived in a box and while I had never seen them before, they were a culinary dream. As a person who loves salt, I have been enjoying this gift over and over again. More importantly, however, my kids are into the salt slabs as well. They think my gift is just as cool as I do. It no longer seems strange to them when these big pink bricks come out of the cabinet. To them, my new gifts make as much sense as ensuring a tuna steak is still pink on the inside.

No longer extraordinary, sushi has become quite commonplace, transitioning from high end fare to a food that can be found in both pizza shops and supermarket aisles. While my children still view it as a treat, they have all eaten sushi, some even trying to master the art of using chopsticks to pick up, rather than stab, their food. Neither the pickled ginger nor the wasabi interest them and until recently I was confident they thought those condiments were merely decorations akin to the plastic grass that came in the container. (Yes: my daughter tried to plant the plastic grass, but that’s another story for another day.)

We have watched the movie “Cars 2” more times than I care to admit. The cutest scene in the film, however, is when Mater asks for a big scoop of pistachio ice cream, completely unaware that the green food he is about to eat is actually wasabi. As to be imagined, he races around the room screaming from the wasabi’s intensity, announcing to everyone around him not to eat, what he still thinks, is the free pistachio ice cream. Mouth on fire, he emphatically declares, “It [the pistachio ice cream] has TURNED.”

Life imitating art, my son accidentally put a heaping amount of wasabi in his mouth that he scooped from the tray of California roll he was eating. It happened very quickly but as soon as I saw him do it, I screamed. “No!” I shouted and he immediately froze. “Don’t eat that – that’s wasabi!” My antics did not seem to make any impression. While he was not spitting it out, he was not eating it either. All of a sudden, my quick thinking eldest had an idea.

“It’s like the pistachio ice cream in Cars 2!” she cried, and that seemed to do the trick. He immediately spit it out, drank a glass of water and imitated Mater with an exaggerated scream throughout the kitchen. Having not actually ingested any of the wasabi, he was fine and we had a good laugh. The obvious downside of all this, however, may turn out to be that my son will be afraid of pistachio ice cream for the rest of his life.

As Seen in the South Shore Standard Jan 2011

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