Oh Goodness, I’ve Created a Monster...
We’ve always been the parents who’ve encouraged our kids to try new foods. Occasionally this has meant that we’ve lied to our kids (“What’s calamari? Uh… shrimp!”) but we would always eventually tell them the truth (“Okay, it’s really squid. Yes, like Squidward. But it was good, wasn’t it?”) and it’s led them to be pretty adventurous eaters. They’re willing to try new foods willingly (fried alligator, even)—but they won’t touch mashed potatoes with a 10-foot pole.
My husband and I are foodies; we love to try new foods and so passing this love of food on to our kids makes us happy. We watched TV cooking shows long before there was a Food Network, and still today if our TV is on there is a good chance that there will be a food-related program showing on it. They especially love the travel and challenge shows.
It really should have come as no surprise when my kids started to give detailed feedback on our meals. It used to be a simple “thanks for [breakfast / lunch / dinner], mom!” and it’s now morphed into “Wow, this granola really adds a wonderful texture and dimension that really offsets the berries and French toast.” And “I love how these onions in my sandwich amplify the flavors in the salami.” I kind of miss the days of “Yummy toast, mom.”
It hit home in a big way when I took my daughter out for a girl’s night and we stopped at a place for salads for dinner. I told her the options available; she asked for the garden salad. When we got to our table and sat down to eat, she raved about the cool, crispness of the greens, the sharp vinegary tang of the dressing and how the buttered baguette were the perfect compliment. I felt like I was having dinner across from Quinoa, the imaginary well-dressed toddler from Pinterest, style icon and warrior against mediocrity.
I cringed a little, looking around at the other diners overhearing my precocious little one critiquing her food. While I welcome her interesting use of compare and contrast, her ability to pull apart the different flavors she’s getting, her grasp of language in describing it—she’s eight. And it’s lettuce. Sometimes a salad is just a salad. A meal doesn’t always have to be a dining experience.
I think the lunchroom is going to be interesting this school year.