Deals, Dares & Reviews To Help You Savor Your World.
I am a culinary adventurer. An explorer, really: I boldly seek out new tastes, new flavors that I’ve never tried before. There’s very little in this world that I won’t put in my mouth at least once (go ahead and snicker) and that suits me just fine. A curious and appreciative palate is something I pride myself on, and a must in my line of work.
So it’s truly a cruel, cosmic prank that the gods have dumped — right on my doorstep — the most finicky kid in the world. Matthew is a quiet, skinny sixteen-year-old. We’ve known him his whole life, but he’s only been living with us for a year or so. He’s smart and capable and sweet, a real joy to have in the house. But he and I are locked in a battle of wits and wills over the dinner table, and I’ll be damned I let him win.
Matthew is the very opposite of a foodie; his list of consumables is as short as mine is long. Through much trial and error, and after MONTHS of keen observation, I have determined that he will eat:
The other day, he wandered into the kitchen where I was mixing cake batter.
“What kind of cake is that?” he asked.
“Yellow cake. Want some?”
“No. I don’t like yellow cake.” And he left the room. (What the –? Who doesn’t like yellow cake?)
And it’s like that with every food I offer: meat loaf? No thanks. Spaghetti? Lasagna? Fuhgeddaboudit. Liver sausage on grilled pumpernickel with horseradish mayo? Are you outta your freakin’ mind!?
As you can imagine, this is all terribly frustrating for the family’s executive chef and grocery getter — me. Especially since Ham and I have sworn off the processed junk food that Matthew subsists on. We can’t eat what he eats, and he won’t eat what we eat. So I have to plan for two totally different menus and make two totally different weekly grocery trips by bus: one to the Farmer’s Market for meat and produce, the other to the big box grocery store — in the opposite direction, of course — for junk food. (To be honest, I’m embarrassed to even have that stuff in the house, but I can’t let the kid starve.) And I have to cook two totally different meals if I want the family to eat together, because unless I’m making something from Matt’s very limited comfort zone, he will NOT taste it. Won’t even sniff it. And it’s this rigidity, this refusal to even consider trying something new, that bothers me the most.
Life will break you if you can’t bend, I tell him.
I explain that tastes change and the very foods he hates now might become the foods he craves in ten, twenty years. I give him examples of stuff I hated as a kid but absolutely love now: sweet potatoes, shrimp cocktails, okra. (I still hate Jelly Beans.) I tell him that he will constantly grow and learn and change as he moves through life, and that he should never be afraid to explore something new. But he doesn’t believe me. He boldly states that he will never, ever like any of “my” foods so there’s no reason to try them.
It’s hard to argue with stubborn logic like that, but I know I’ll have the last laugh. I dared him one day to write out, on a little scrap of notebook paper, an affidavit attesting that he will never evolve as an eater. It reads, “I, Matthew W______, on this day of February 17, 2012, say that my taste buds will never change.” I keep that affidavit in a safe place — just biding my time — until that glorious day in the far-off future when Matt says to me, “Why yes! I’d love a spinach and feta crepe. And is that arugula?”
Until then, I’m seriously considering solving the entire “finicky kid” problem the way a hamster or a wolf spider would: they unapologetically and efficiently eat their own young. And while Matt may not technically be “mine,” he’s mine now. So he qualifies.
–Dedicated, with much love, to Mattie-Cat – June 13, 2012.