“I would like to try all the creatures of the sea” and “Are you allowed to eat penguins?” Just a couple of things my four-year-old son, Ted, has said to me in recent months.
Now, I am a squeamish eater – I declared that I would no longer eat fish at the age of 11. I was a vegetarian for years as an adult. Until recently, I would only touch raw meat with a fork when preparing a meal. I can generally only stomach chicken breast or certain cuts of pork and it is my idea of hell to have a whole, baked fish sitting on a plate at the same table as me, nevermind being asked to actually eat the damned thing.
But I’ve got a boy who hungers for anything that once had a heartbeat. He loves swimming in the sea and then sitting down to a nice plate of barbecued sardines (see above) that he’s watched being gutted. He’s hoping to eat a clown fish, a walrus and a whole rabbit one day.
So, what do I do? Well, when a kid really loves something, it’s only right to encourage them and open up a whole new world for them, right? I’m having to overcome some of my deepest-held food weirdnesses to buy and cook food that seriously grosses me out. I even try the bloody stuff sometimes – gotta show willing, how else will I get him to eat vegetables? I take a VERY small mouthful and wash it straight down with something liquid and preferably alcoholic.
And, just so you know, Ted’s a very picky eater and I’m definitely not an űber Mum. He takes a packed lunch to nursery – he’s too fussy to try the cooked offering. He’ll only eat potatoes in crisp or chip form, picks from a limited selection of fresh fruit and veg (broccoli, sweetcorn, strawberries and orange segments ad infinitum), doesn’t like cheese or cream (how weird?), loves egg white but won’t touch the yoke, hates anything with a sauce or ‘bits’, detests pizza and will not countenance any kind of onion anywhere near his food.
I try to feed him well, healthily and without having to spend two hours preparing every meal beforehand, but sometimes – frankly – I really cannot be arsed. I also regularly distract him with lollipops, hit him up with a selection of Haribo and let him have chicken nuggets at McDonalds. Life’s too short to be perfect!
I’ll be sharing the parental highs and lows of cooking way outside your comfort zone in future blog posts – bon appetit!