Sometimes when we go visiting I'm asked what the children would like to eat. I no longer answer this question, because they just make a liar of me. I could suggest their favourite food, and you can guarantee they won't like it that particular day. Sometimes this can work out for the better anyway, as they can surprise you and eat something for someone else that they'd never eat for you at home. For example, we visited relations on Inishbofin, and the adults were served baked mackerel. The kids were served the safety dish of bolognese, which never made it out of the saucepan, as they were fascinated with the mackerel, and stole all of ours.
It's super frustrating when you put all the effort into creating a dish, put it on the table and watch the panic come over someone's face. Many a meal has ended with a bowl of porridge being made. (This isn't a punishment, ours kids LIKE porridge!) However, I think I have finally come to a happy medium. If I'm making a dish that I think might be scary, I make a less scary sidekick dish. For example, I make chicken and broccoli gratin (Scrumptious) and in a separate dish, plain chicken covered in breadcrumbs with broccoli ON THE SIDE!!
We've found the most bizarre things can help win over a fussy eater. Chanting, for instance, “Por-ridge, nah nah nah” and “French-toast, ooh la la, French toast ooh la la!”. Sold. As for pretending the spoon is an aeroplane – you've got one shot with that one, so make the most of it, because the next time they see the aeroplance spoon, they'll turn their nose up. They're on to you.
Our kids have also come up with their own name for things so if you came round to our house and saw the board it could say anything from Megatron Pie (Shepherds Pie) to Oink Burgers (Pork mince with grated apple and maple syrup). Whatever keeps everyone happy.
We get the kids to cook dinner some times. You'd be amazed at how it can turn things around with a fussy eater. They have to pick something from a cook book, shop for the ingredients, prepare it, cook it and serve it! It has worked like a charm. You may not do it too often as it's a little time consuming, however, you could end up with a new favourite to add to your list, and that's always a good thing.
I once read that getting married and having children is what makes a woman a good cook. Take from that what you like!! I have to remember that these six food critics sitting at my table every night are my friends. I've read lots of advice on the subject of fussy eating and no one seems to have the magic answer. You have to do what suits your family. You know your kids best.
Saying all that, I just turned 38 and I still don't eat my crusts!
I'm including my recipe for a favourite dish, Oink burgers. I've tried a few recipes but had to tweak to get it right.
500g pork mince
Half a peeled, grated apple
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 egg beaten
Chicken stock cube (Crumbled)
Pinch sea salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
Combine ingredients in a bowl using a fork. Shape into patties. Fry on a pan with a little olive oil. I weigh a 4oz patty for an adult and 2 1/2oz - 3oz for a child.