Sloppy, seedy tomatoes! Cruelly boiled cabbage! Bleeding beetroot! Onions - yuck! My sentiments actually, more years ago than I care to divulge. I remember trying to hide 1980s school dinners' liver under mashed potato (found out and forced to eat). I recall pushing food around my plate long after my siblings had eaten their fill, the cold gloopy beans making circular patterns in the dish. Perhaps then, I should have more sympathy for my own kids' outpourings of disgust at food that is just not cutting the mustard?
Strangely, this is not the case, and I confess to being not terribly tolerant. But like most mums, I have tried various techniques over the years to encourage/trick my children into eating food they are facing down as if in battle. Tweaked names for superfood veg - "broccol-tree" - which clearly works best on little ones (my bigger children's rolling eyes betraying their dismay at mum's sad sense of "humour"). Introducing brussel sprouts as "baby cabbages" has worked less well. I guess sprouts will always be sprouts, and if cabbages aren't acceptable, why should their babies be? I have replaced white with red onion in bolognese for a long time, its camouflage generally successful. If a keen eye detects the onion, tactic no 2 comes swiftly into play: letting "accidentally" slip that a generous glug of wine has been added to the sauce smooths the passage of the onion ("Hic, we're EATING wine...haha sssssshhhhh!!").
Our kitchen history is steeped in innumerable negotiations, campaigns and triumphs since No 1 ate nothing mixed with anything else (which rules out rather a lot), and survived on a diet of cheese crackers, cheese and pasta, more cheese, and broccol-tree when he saw the funny side. But these days my children are generally fuss-free, occasionally objecting to the odd squishy strawberry or mangled piece of melon. Pasta's popularity is unrivalled and eggs are never refused.
Of course the more kids cook, the more they are prepared to try new foods. My cunning plan of planting the seeds of culinary keeness by showing the children Jamie's 30 Minute Meals appears to be reaping rewards. This method does require a readiness to relinquish kitchen control, as the floor disappears under a cloud of flour, or the saucepan cupboard is "reorganised" - BREATHE AND RELAX - but I've been treated to a brilliant roast beef lunch, super salads, and delicious desserts. And witnessing Jamie exuberantly extol the virtues of tomatoes has even encouraged No 1 to consider trying them himself (a miracle!). But despite Jamie's 5 asparagus-themed recipes, I might claim the asparagus-eating success as my own after telling the kids about asparagus wee (which could work on doubting adults too)!
It's easy to get into a stew worrying about fussy children, but I was one who now eats everything. Although I have taken the sensible precaution of blu-tacking pages 228-229 of Jamie's 30 Minute Meals together. I don't want to risk my kids cooking me liver, only to find I've stashed it underneath Jamie's smash!
Angelique & Becky
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