Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Excerpt from The Three-Martini Playdate

This is so awesome that I just had to share:

If you are forced to make dinner for ungrateful children, and you anticipate that their reaction to your Potaje de Frijoles Blancos con Codornices will be less than enthusiastic, do not, whatever you do, fall into the "white food" trap. Do not trot out a plate of wagon-wheel noodles topped with a shake of Parmesan-flavored cheese product and call it dinner. How in the world are your finicky eaters ever going to raise their level of taste or expand their culinary horizons if they are exposed only to plain noodles and cut-up hotdogs? Offer them what the grown-ups are eating. Fill their plates with color and flavor. If nothing else, they can admire the texture and composition.

It is not your job to spend every evening over a hot stove, preparing two or even three different dinners, catering to every preference in the family. Why not try a novel approach and serve the same dinner to everyone *gasp* It may seem difficult at first, getting your children used to this egalitarian plan. They may balk and make unpleasant faces. They may turn up their noses at Monday evening's braised Blanquette de Veau and refuse to eat. Enjoy your meal, and firmly insist that this is what is being served for dinner. Tuesday night they may rudely refrain from the roasted asparagus ragout (Nolan asks me to buy asparagus every time we're at the store), and will almost certainly complain of some vague "hunger". Do not be inveigled to whip up a small pot of macaroni and butter. Wednesday may find them sniffing disdainfully at your Coq au Poire, but by Thursday their little tummies will begin to rumble ever so slightly as they glance with longing at the Creole trout puffs. Come Friday, in a weakened and much more malleable state, they will be begging for seconds of spring-pea soup, and clamoring for just one more piece of cauliflower torte.

If you didn't start them on an interesting variety of foods by the time they were a year old, then this method is really the only way to break them of their persnickety eating habits. As long as they are given plenty of fresh water to drink, they shouldn't be in any serious danger.

Attempt to avoid the ubiquitous "negotiating" that goes on at dinner tables across the country, which is really nothing more than bribing children to eat dinner.

They poke at their salad, they move the carrots and broccoli around the plate. You propose a deal: In exchange for taking "just five more big bites" they can have sweets beyond their wildest dreams. "Just three more bites" will get them cookies and ice cream. The child puts two grains of rice into his mouth and demands dessert. You will be exhausted, and your child will get dessert, having won the battle. So it will go, meal after meal, night after night.

If you must try to reason with them, do not barter with food. Use a cherished nonfood item as a bargaining chip, for instance telling them they will not get to watch their favorite video or play poker after dinner unless they eat all of their vegetables. Dessert is taken out of the equation. Simple. Clean. They keep up their end, you keep up yours.

Bon appetit!

Couldn't say it any better. Nothing annoys me more than restaurant children's menus. Chicken fingers, fries, hot dogs, hamburgers, grilled cheese. Seriously?? Every single restaurant. It's ridiculous. Children can and DO have broader palates than that. Like Nolan eating all my clams and shrimp. His favorite food is Pad Thai. He loves vegetables. Oh! Another thing that annoys me to no end is the "hiding the vegetables" fad right now. Puree veggies and add it to your kid's food so they won't know. So, in reality they get a teaspoon of veggies in their mac & cheese. And they learn that veggies are only good in disguise. You suddenly put cauliflower in it's whole, pure form before them and they recoil in fear. Gah! Oh! And as I just commented on Mindy's recent post...why in the world would you cut the crusts off your kid's bread? It's just retarded. Off my soapbox now.


Cheri said...

The poker thing really works for us with Elliot.

With restaurants serving such huge portions, I can't even justify ordering something seperate for Elliot. I think he would be offended if I did.

Shannon said...

we usually order something for the kids to split. but we didn't order nolan his own food until he was pretty much old enough to share with avrie.

Mindy said...

i'm going to look for this at our library - sounds good!

Laura Ingalls Wilder said...

I LIKE your soapbox!

Janelle said...

Hmmmm I'm going to have to check this book out. It sounds really good!

Lani said...

And then there's me. I see the point, but I also think that a little hotdog or macaroni and cheese here and there never hurt anyone. ;)

Shannon said...

We still eat mac & cheese and hot dogs too, Lani! And I just found the best hot dogs on the face of the earth at our little local butcher shop.