Thursday, October 25, 2007

Tangled Webs of Gastronomy

Ever since Jessica Seinfeld's now famous Oprah appearance (aside: Oprah freaks me out with her power), friends have bombarded me with questions about whether I, as a mom who's into food, am into the whole deceptively delicious/sneaky chef thing. Unfortunately, I haven't had much of an answer for them. But now I do.


Let me back up. I haven't read either of the books, and am not really all that interested in the publishing world drama involved. But I do totally get the premise behind both books: get your kids to eat more veggies by "hiding" them in foods they like. OK.

I first heard about the books months ago, when Missy Lapine's Sneaky Chef was released. My initial reaction was one of...non-reaction. I actually tried to have an opinion about the concept, or to at least drum up some interest in it so I could write about it. For some reason, though, I couldn't.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, and the now infamous Mrs. Seinfeld Oprah episode. My friends are into it. I'm still hesitant. I mean, I've had blueberry muffins with spinach in them and I think they're pretty and they taste fine. But for some reason, I just can't get into the whole movement.

Somehow, somewhere in the dark recesses of my mind I must have known that a writer more articulate than I am would nail down the reservations causing my opinion roadblock. Lo and behold, yesterday I clicked on this piece in Slate by Mimi Sheraton and I found my voice. Well, not so much my voice as my thoughts, in a different voice that's much clearer and full of wisdom.

I now realize that my hesitancy stems from a feeling of uneasiness about tricking kids into eating something. Here's the thing: I was kind of a picky eater as a kid. I didn't like spinach, sweet potatoes, green beans, mayonnaise, eggs and any number of other things. I still don't like mayonnaise, but I digress.

My parents didn't kowtow to me, though. They let me avoid mayonnaise and eggs - I wasn't hurting for protein in my diet and it's not like mayonnaise is full of nutritional value anyway. But the veggies - oh, I ate them. I hated them and complained and did more than my fair share of crying at the table, but I ate them.

And now I love them. The "hating" was a phase and not a terribly original one at that. I don't hate my parents because they forced a little bit of green down my throat. In fact, I appreciate their tenacity. I have a broader palate today thanks to them - and a solid understanding of the phases we go through as consumers of food.

Had they simply hidden the veggies in cake, I'd lack all of that.

And then what would I write about?

3 comments:

Nicole said...

I don't have children, so I can't speak to whether or not I approve of hiding food within food for them. But I am married to a picky eater who refuses to try new things...and I have tricked him into eating and liking new things by disguising them in familiar things.

It's totally tricky, but sometimes you have to be sneaky.

Kit Pollard said...

Somehow it seems more fair to "trick" an adult. I mean, your husband's probably past the point of learning to like new things all by themselves, at least on a psychological level...

Plus, it sounds like you come clean at the end, in hopes of converting him. Which is sort of sneaky, but not SO much...

Butters and Johnnycakes said...

I'm curious to read the cookbook to boost my own veggie intake! A few extra vitamins and minerals can't help:)

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