Tuesday, January 6, 2009

gourmet eaters

My children are young gourmets. They will eat chicken nuggets, but they are also willing to eat grouper with tomato, basil, capers and olives. While they're happy to eat a piece of chocolate wrapped as if it were a miniature $100 bill, they seem to prefer the Ghirardelli that Santa (perhaps mistakenly?) shared with them. They will eat a lunch of Kroger brand medium cheddar, but they have discovered that they really love goat cheese with cranberries and cinnamon.

CD and I were discussing the pros and cons of this. We wanted them to be good eaters. I was not. I learned to eat when I spent a year in Europe and had no money. I discovered that free food = good food. I also put on about twenty pounds because cheap food is not often healthy food. (And also because wine and chocolate and cheese and bread were the staples of my diet that year. In some order.) We had both read Michael Pollan's books and had started to expand our meals to include more local produce at about the time Pook was born. We quit eating in front of the tv and started sitting in the dining room. We encouraged, and sometimes insisted, that he taste our food as soon as he started on table foods. Bug took naturally to our plates and never much cared for the bland baby foods. (He tasted a medium salsa: "It 'picy. I have more?")

We are glad that they're willing to try new foods. But why must they always like the expensive stuff? For New Year's Eve, we went to dinner at Benihana's. We knew it would be exciting for the kids, watching the chefs prepare the food at the table with all the stunts they perform. We also knew it wouldn't be cheap. Sure enough, out come the menus and I immediately hear, "I want shrimp!" from the reader. They loved seeing the chef catch the shrimp tails in his coat pocket and atop his chef's hat and the meal was a fun experience, if pricey.

They tried all sorts of seafood while we were at the beach last summer. I think they've never had lobster, which is probably for the best. Let them save something for a later age. We bought artichokes once, just for fun, and they've been asking to have them again. (I think they both considered it a convenient vehicle for eating melted butter.) A little while ago I watched Pook eat a Ghirardelli raspberry square, tiny bite by tiny bite, enjoying every morsel. I'm glad he knows good stuff when he gets it, but he better not get used to getting it.


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