Our family, we’re into food. Jon’s dad is a chef who runs a film location catering business and his mum is a kick ass cook. My own mother is quiet the cook, and growing up in NJ we always were exposed to all sorts of yummy seafood. There’s a famous story of my neighbor, a fisherman, coming over with a bunch of blue claw crabs one day, and after boiling them up, all the adults were going to town on them, while my toddler self sat very quietly watching them, and after 10 minutes asked to try one. I remember gathering with all the kids from the block around the picnic table of another neighbor, also a fisherman, devouring lobsters. Yes, I had a brief stint with vegetarianism through high school, but that all ended when I started living with Jon and watching him cook. Also, during those veggie years there were many many excuses made while I gorged myself on fish and shellfish. A trip several years ago to visit Jon’s family in Trinidad kicked up my tolerance for hot pepper many many notches, and had me trying all kinds of curry; chicken and goat alike, among other amazing West Indian foods like phoularie, doubles, and shark and bake.
So considering all of this, it doesn’t surprise me that Ivy is quiet the adventurous little eater, and has tried her fair share of crazy foods at the tender age of 11 months. She’s already tried and loved shrimp, lobster and several varieties of fish. She’s been known to chomp down on polish dill pickles and radishes, and her current favorite food is grilled zucchini. She eats all kind of ‘normal’ foods like chicken, steak, green beans, sweet potatoes, etc. And, at our neighbors Memorial Day BBQ she even had a few pieces of goat. Goat! Now, I know, as I sit here typing this and boasting away that there may be a time in the not too distant future when she turns her nose up at anything green, or perish the thought refuses to eat seafood. But with parents like us, I’m not so sure.
So when my sister sent me this article from the NY Times, I sat there nodding my head in agreement, and also giggling away at the thought of Park Slopers up in arms because a Slope restaurant dared not offer a childrens menu. Who needs hot dogs and chicken nuggets when there’s so many more delicious, exciting options out there for kids.
I know, I know, I live in Brooklyn, NYC and have lots of options beyond the Olive Garden for going out to dinner. But really, even at our family table at home when we’re eating something as ‘boring’ as grilled chicken and salad we encourage Ivy to try some. And lately, since she’s been working on feeding herself she really has been rejecting any form of pureed veggies (fruit is still ok though).
To me meals have always been such an important part of family life, of course I want my children to share in the experience. My grandmother was an incredible cook and baker, and when she passed and my cousins and I were all together again sharing our memories, there was usually a common factor. You guessed it: food. The priest even remarked at the service ” I noticed nobody started to cry until you brought up food”.
So naturally I don’t want to limit (or as the chef in the article says ‘dumb down’) my daughters experience by keeping it simple. I want her to be the one in her kindergarten class telling her classmates how yummy curry is and that yes, she is telling the truth when she says she’s tried a raw clam.