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?