Thursday, April 16, 2009
Yes, I have phobias about food. Several of them, in fact. I blame my mother. Allow me to explain.
When I first made what I now simply refer to as The List, I called my best friend Kristen. "15 foods!" I howled into the phone. She agreed that 15 was a pretty pathetic number. We brainstormed ideas, trying to find a way to get Miss D. to consume new/more nutritious food. Our ideas were, frankly, pretty lame and consisted of basically either bribery or force.
Then she said something interesting. "Well, you could always pull a Jessica Seinfeld."
For those of you who have been living in a cave for the last several years, Jessica Seinfeld (wife of comedian Jerry Seinfeld) penned a little book called Deceptively Delicious. In this book, Mrs. Seinfeld advocates making nutritious purees of fruit and vegetables, mixing said purees into kid-friendly food such as pizza and lasagna and--basically--fooling your child into eating things s/he would never allow down their gullet otherwise.
I have a problem with this. To me, it just seems kind of underhanded and deceptive.
Now I know you could argue that sneaking veggies into Junior's marinara is a helluva lot better than letting your kid exist on pizza and chicken nuggets, and you just might have a point there. But tricking my kid, even for what might be a good reason, leaves me cold. I don't want to do it. More importantly, I don't think I should do it.
And here's why. First of all, "tricking" toes a pretty fine line with "lying" and I've told Miss D. that lying is WRONG.
Which brings me to my first food phobia--Meat Loaf. Growing up, I liked to play in the kitchen while my mother cooked dinner. Cooking seemed kind of like magic to me: take a bunch of ordinary stuff and put it together and "Poof!" something delicious comes out. My mom thought I was just pushing a bunch of Matchbox cars around, but I was paying attention. Which is how I discovered that my mother hid LOADS of crap I didn't like in meatloaf. Leftover spinach? Went in. Mushy carrots from two nights ago? In. Zucchini? Shredded and in. I was traumatized.
My mother, the one who threatened to beat me within an inch of my life if I told an untruth, was dishonest with the meatloaf! All the while I'd been eating dinner, completely unaware that she had been hiding hideous shit in my food! I don't think I ever really trusted her again after the Great Meatloaf Debacle of 1974. If I could spare Miss D. the agony of that particular moment in my childhood, I was certainly going to.
I've never even been able to look at meatloaf since that episode. It became clear--meatloaf is hiding something. I don't like deceptive food.
My second argument with "pulling a Jessica Seinfeld" is that, frankly, in the Real World, people eat Real Food. I can't follow Miss D. around for the rest of her life, happily pureeing beets and slipping them into her pancakes. Sooner or later, Daphne's going to have to grapple with beets. Might as well be sooner than later. Chances are, she's going to (like her mother) gag on them and cringe in disgust, but at least she'll see the beet and know where it came from and learn how to cook it and then reject it. And it also means that Mommy has to give beets another try, which in itself is a good lesson. Second chances are generous and lovely things.
When I approached Miss D. with the plan for Family Meal Rehab, she was surprisingly agreeable. I was amazed and pleased and proud. And then she came back at me with wiles I didn't know she had.
"Sure Mama," she said, "but sometimes I get to pick what we cook, right?" This seemed like a reasonable request, so I agreed.
She smiled, in her devilish Minx-y way and said, in a little sing-song voice, "You're gonna have to baaaaaaaaaaaake."
That little turd.
She knows I don't bake. I have a deep fear of yeast. I admit it. Yeast frightens the crap out of me. It has ever since the Mishap of the Exploding Sourdough Starter of 1986. Yeast is alive! It is alive and temperamental and high-maintenance. Yeast is like that nightmare of a college roommate you had your freshman year.
Shudder. But I had to admit, the Minx had me there--if she wants me to have another toe-to-toe gunfight with yeast, so be it.
I just pray to God she doesn't decide to conquer meatloaf. .
Posted by TKW at 11:22 AM