Every foodie mom wants to raise an eater. A kid with a profound appreciation for food who can tell you the difference between a Béarnaise and a Hollandaise.
I love that my two year old’s favorite food is bacon, that she’ll pick the carcass of roast chicken clean if I let her, that she prefers to snack on roasted Nori sheets over Oreos if given the option, but it’s not my biggest focus. I want her to respect food, but I want her to respect people more.
I’m grateful that I have the ability to buy organic whole produce, spend the extra five bucks for the organic free range eggs, that I always make cakes, frosting, ricotta cheese, bread and pasta from scratch, and I’m thrilled that I get to be that type of mom. But I wasn’t that type of kid.
I was the kid who’s family lived pay check to paycheck, who once sorted through boxes of canned food sent over from the local Mission when the funds ran really low, who waited in the 12 passenger van while mom ran into the bakery to buy twenty-cent day old bread so our family of ten could make it through the month. And I never had a friend who made me feel bad about it.
When my seven sisters and I would have friends over on a friday night, and mom would make Bisquick pancakes for dinner, it was seen as charming, not as a cheap way to feed the fifteen mouths that were now at the table.
That’s what I want for Tater. To be able to sit at anyones table and see the food as what it is, a gesture of care and affection. I don’t want her to ask for aged Reggiano to add to the Rice-A-Roni that her friends mom served. I don’t want to raise a kid who wants to add a honey balsamic reduction to ice berg salad mix she is given by the next door neighbor.
I want her to eat what she is served, and feel grateful that someone took the time to offer her food from their home.
I want to raise a kid who would eat boxed macaroni and cheese if that what she is served, and clean her plate, without ever pointing out that her mom makes it from scratch.
And if she is at summer camp and a group of weary, under paid cooks serve her chicken nuggets and tater tots that only made a brief stop in the kitchen after a long ride on a Sysco truck, I hope she is able to see warm food that people took time away from their families to make for her.
And if someday her mother in law serves her a burnt lasagna that is still frozen in the middle, with Kool-Aid out of plastic tumblers, I hope she say thank you. And I hope she means it.
Food is more than just an experience of taste and the pleasures that it brings, it’s about a respect for those who serve it. Everyone has different abilities, concerns and limitations but we all bring food to those we love with the same motivation, and no amount of foodie intolerance should ever diminish that.
I have the privilege of spending time and money on the food that I want to serve, but the love I bring to my table is no different than the busy, over worked mother or 5 who serves spaghetti from a jar and a box twice a week.
I want her to be gracious and appreciative, no matter what is put in front of her, thanking her hosts, because others did that for me.
That’s what food is about.
Sauteed Brussels Sprouts With Goat Cheese
3 tbs olive oil
3 cups Brussels sprouts, cut into quarters
1/2 tsp course salt
1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
small pinch of cayenne pepper
2 oz goat cheese, crumbled
(makes 4 side dish portions)
In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat until hot and shimmery. Add the Brussels sprouts, tossing frequently until browned and fork tender. Turn off heat, add the salt pepper and cayenne, toss to coat. Add to a plate and top with goat cheese.