Monday, March 30, 2009

Meal time woes

A recent post at inspired me to write about family mealtimes of my own experience. There are so many bloggers who absolutely enjoy the kitchen and are able to whip up fantastic tasty meals in no time at all. I cook for my two boys but I am severely restricted in my choices by the fussy palates. Dael won't eat any yellow veg. except gem squash and every meal is accompanied by a lethal dose of tomato sauce (ketchup). Bradley generally has eaten late and then is not hungry at dinnertime and moans and groans throughout the meal because he is full. The boys don't have an affinity with any vegetables and most meals consist of whatever meat with potato or rice and gem squash. Their favourite is macaroni cheese. Executive fare people. Anyway they are growing boys so I figure the huge amount of starch they consume is probably not doing them too much harm. Pantry items in my house usually consist of a lot of bread, ditto eggs, two minutes noodles, fresh cheese for making snackwiches (Dael's staple). Very simple fare.
I don't really even try to hard to get them to eat 'forbidden' items but my mom was very militant in her approach to feeding her fantastic four. Fantastic is the word because our antics were probably hard to believe. My mom believes that food is the backbone of bringing up kids and she has taken her task to heart. My parents believed in discipline and routine (who doesn't if they can implement it) and working as a well oiled machine, together they did implement it. The table was laid every night - cloth, placemats, silverware, plates, condiments, drinking glasses, colddrinks. When we were younger they dished up for us probably because they couldn't trust us to dish a balanced meal. My youngest sister (the baby) always got the smallest portion and always left some of it. She pecked her food! Can you believe that today she is the cook of the family, always trying new recipes and is a big girl. Her favourite tv programme is the cooking channel. My middle sister used to dissect her food and isolate any bits that had 'veins' or 'pipes'. Honestly watching her eat you would instantly lose your appetite. My brother didn't have a problem with food and still doesn't. I was fussy but in a good way - obviously. No really I was very simplistic and plain - no sauces, fresh tomato or cucumber. I loved cheese and lettuce. My parents once held me down as a kid and tried to force a piece of fresh tomato between my lips. I was about 12 at the time - I won! My mom's personal favourite in the vegetable world is peas and it seemed like every meal included peas! I hate peas and even today very seldom even buy them. Just about every night I would be relegated to the kitchen once the table was cleared to chase my portion of cold peas around the plate until every last one was eaten. My parents were very vigilant. Today though (in my maturity!) I will eat tomato on a burger or in cooked food. It is still not a favourite though. I love cucumber now and eat it every night with my meal. I eat mayonnaise and other sauces. I am waiting hopefully for the day that I can maybe be a bit more adventurous with my meal plans but until then - sorry mom - I haven't got your kind of energy!


  1. Oh, I love peas. And I'm a food freak. Just made myself a stir fry :)
    My sister is just like what you described. She must leave something - anything at all. If there are 5 peas left, she'll eat 4. If there is one chip left, she'll eat half of it, or 3/4. Anyone mentions this, she explodes!
    She's 7. Lol.

  2. I remember those days! We had some success whenever we went out to a cafeteria set-up, where we could get lots of little things for the children to choose from.

    I remember making lasagna with lots of vegetables layered in, disguised under the cheese and the tomato sauce. They caught up after a while.

    The good news is: they will outgrow this.

  3. Thanks for popping over. As you can tell from my current post, our dinner times don't really focus much on the food!!! I do believe however, that your palate changes as you grow. As a child I hated tomatoes and sweet corn with a passion and now they're my faves. My middle child positively gags on brocolli, and I must admit, it sometimes makes me feel a bit funny. I did something right with my little guy tho' because he eats pretty much anything. Just wish i could figure out exactly what I did!

  4. I've always been fussy - hated meat virtually from birth and also did the dissecting thing and still sniff food before I eat it. My mom never forced anything on us but made it clear that what was for dinner was what there was and didnt cook up four different meals every night! Its a wonder I never died from my diet in my 20's which was mainly noodles, chips and chocolate!
    I often wish that eating wasn't so wonderfully social as we coud perhpas just swallow a food pill and be done with it :)

  5. I went from an extremely fussy eater when I was little - to eating just about anything. (I don't like offal or organs of any kind and I am also not fond of peas, except the little petit pois and they must be either raw or blanced for 30 seconds in boiling water.

    For those with fussy eater kids - have you had a look at Jessica Seinfeld's book (Yes Jerry's wife) Deceptively Delicious

    I own a copy and it is awesome! She mushes up vegetables and incorporates it in kid's favourites like mac & cheese and choc chip cookies.

  6. Greenpanda - I will eat peas in a stew or something and at my mom's obviously! And I also love stirfrys but too many veggies for the boys. Your sister sounds like a little prima donna and I'm sure she gives you the runaround.

    Griever - A pleasure as always.

    Lakeviewer - Yes sadly my boys have caught on to mixing veg into the food. I also used to dish the mash on top of the squash but they always found it.

    Expat mum - Mealtimes are something of a control thing for kids. I thinks the key is to make them as hungry as we can so they will just consume everything on their plate.

    FF - Your mom sounds like a very practical lady. I think the pill thing would be useful but it would indeed take the fun out of eating.

    Spear - Thanks for the suggestion. I might consider using one or two ideas just to see if I can swing it past the boys.

  7. I battle with my husband who also won't eat much, and I will eat anything, basically. But I hate cooking, and hate thinking of what to make every night!

  8. I can't eat eggs. i watched a programme on sesame street where it showed a chick developing in an egg and how the egg came out of the chicken's bum (i thought!..hey i was 5). since then even the smell my stomach churn!

    I can only eat egg in chocolate cake :)

  9. If you lightly braise some little gem lettuce,with some thinly sliced spring onions [I think they are called scallions in the States] add petite pois, the smallest sized pea you can get...sprinkling of sugar and salt and heat gently I guarantee even the greatest pea hater will love them. Put them on the table, tell the kids they are for you as it is adult food and they musn't have them and see what happens. Braise celery, carrots, in salted salted water till just tender but still al dente, make a white sauce, lift the veg into an oven proofed dish, cover with the salt and sprinkle with cheese and then breadcrumbs, finish in a hot oven till the cheese is golden brown. Good luck

  10. Oh dear, that was supposed to say 'cover with the sauce' but you figured that out for yurself, didn't you?

  11. Well, some time in their lives they will eat almost anything - maybe when they have to cook it themselves.

  12. I love to cook. My sister does not. While I was visiting I cooked four meals for her and her husband. Boy did they love it. Cooking for children, on the other hand, can be a thankless task. But us mother's do our best, one hates broccoli, one loves broccoli, they seem to adore cheese in any form, but fish, no fish. Sigh, it's never easy to attend to their nutritional needs, I'm afraid.

  13. I always always pick raw tomato off everything. Yuck!

    I was a terribly fussy eater as a kid! Hmm, that seems to have changed, but I still won't touch fruit, which is a terrible shame, but I just can't stomach it.

  14. Growing up, we were poor. It was mandatory to clean your plate. I was a picky eater and hated a lot of foods just because of the texture. My Mom made me eat mash potatoes,and they came back up.

    She made me clean the mess:(

  15. Oh no, I'm picturing you chasing your cold peas around on the plate, all alone at the table.

    My son is a young adult now, with a fairly sophisticated palette. He's even a sushi fan. But cheese used to be his mainstay too, especially with macaroni.

  16. Strange, but our kids had very sophisticated palates before they turned into teenagers. Then they all became food idiots...I guess along with being's a teen thing.

    Eldest daughter is coming back around to being both human and enjoying food.

    At the moment I REALLY miss cooking. It's one thing I'm looking forward to about getting home. I can't wait to try out the Afghan recipes I've collected.