An uncle recently started a conversation with me about children who are picky eaters and adults that still are. As the contradiction my uncle held my brother and I up as comparison, saying that we were exposed to so many different foods as kids. Which isn’t quite how I remember childhood. If asked, I’d have grouped myself into the picky eater category too.
“No, you weren’t too bad,” my mom said when I asked her about it later.
Instead of convincing me of our gastronomic diet I wonder if she has conveniently forgotten the difficult parts. I was certainly the pickiest one in the family and remember eating many meals I wasn’t wild about. Special accommodations for taste were rare and given to everyone. Yet, every night we sat down to dinner together to eat the same meal. Mostly.
This all came to mind while eating a family dinner with friends and their not quite two year old daughter. We all ate the same thing. Mostly. The kid decided she didn’t like romaine lettuce after trying it twice; once because it was set on her plate and once because she grabbed it out of the serving bowl. Both times she calmly pushed it away toward her parents. She happily laughed throughout the meal, was given permission to get down from her seat since we were sitting at the table talking over margaritas, and then came back to the table to color. Conversation included her, as is only polite, but wasn’t interrupted by her.
Perhaps this type of scene is what my mom is remembering. My own memory, influenced by my thoughts, is making changes to the scene. There were plenty of foods I’d rather have pushed away. There were also those I requested again and again like warm spinach salad. Fresh spinach topped with crispy bacon, chopped egg, sliced mushrooms, and marinated artichoke hearts was on my list of super special dinners. I have memories of opening the refrigerator and seeing all the vegetables prepped in ceramic ramekins and realizing, giddily, what we would be eating that night.
A year back my mom made dinner for visiting family, including two children under the age of three. While plating a fresh spinach salad made with avocado, red onion, and goat cheese I asked my cousin if her kids would eat the salad too. She assured me they’d love it. I, happy they were also fans of spinach salad, rewarded the children with the good — and breakable — plates. While eating they buzzed like a hive of bees busy at work. My cousin apologized for the noise, but my mom only laughed saying, “I’m not used to any children besides my own eating my cooking.”
Oddly, I’d never made my childhood favorite of warm spinach salad before this post. With my memories and a friend’s guidance in making the bacon dressing (artichoke water!) I thought this was quite the success. Buzzzzz.