I had no idea that my “Travesty” post would get so much attention. It has been picked up by a food service news website and I’ve received several comments relating to my opinion, all of which offer support to my point of view (so far). What I haven’t heard from yet are the angry parents whose toes I’ve stepped on (or crushed, whatever). So, in the spirit of antagonism, I’ll add a little more chile to the sauce (you like that, don’t you?).
Several years ago (more like 12 or 13, actually), my wife and I welcomed our first little addition to our family, a cute little cross-eyed stray cat that we could never come up with a name for (Ms. Kitty seemed to stick). After feeding her some expensive food for a while, we decided to save a little money by purchasing a different brand. Well, Ms. Kitty snubbed the food. My wife got concerned about it and wanted to switch back to the other, more expensive food. My tight wallet, however, had a different plan. Logic told me that if I didn’t feed her anything else, she would eventually get so hungry that she would eat anything. So, day one comes and goes without a nibble. A couple of sniffs, but no more. Day two came and went with the same results. However, overnight going into day three, Ms. Kitty ate the whole bowl and we didn’t have any problems after that. Why? Because she had no choice.
My point is that kids are like animals (okay, they ARE animals, sometimes). When given a choice, kids will normally choose what they like to eat. So, what if you don’t give them a choice for dinner? Will they starve? No. Will they go hungry? Sometimes, maybe. However, we need to teach our kids a couple of things:
- Our bodies need a certain type of nutrition to function properly. Hot dogs, mac and cheese, pizza, and processed chicken nuggets are just not the best things to eat every day, all the time. Maybe we, as parents, need to teach ourselves first.
- It is impolite to be invited over to a family or friend’s house to eat and to refuse (or worse, express disgust about) the food that is served. Teaching our kids to appreciate all that is served begins at home.
- Food, and the culinary arts, are one of those hedonistic pleasures that if experienced in moderation (like everything else), is exceptionally pleasing and exciting and rewarding. Can it get any better than to be able to teach our children to experience pleasure without being sinful or immoral or illegal?
I’ve met way too many parents who cook two meals for dinner, one for the parents and something else for the kids. I implore you to stop, and to begin teaching your children to love the food you make or to go hungry.
A closing anecdote: A friend of mine cooked linguine with sautéed mussels this past weekend. His grandchildren were over and their mother warned that they would probably not eat the mussels. To her surprise, and to my friend’s delight, they absolutely loved the mussels. Granted, how can you not like anything simmered in butter and garlic?