Thursday, April 16, 2009

Meat Loaf Has Something to Hide and Other Food Phobias

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. .


  1. I love your reasoning in not lying to her. I am glad I can bake and yeast doesn't scare me. LOL And I DO NOT put anything nasty in my leatloaf.

  2. Oh this is too funny! I've been reading about kids and likes/dislikes. They claim it takes about 20 times of being presented with a food before a kid will decide to give it a go. I guess the right idea is to engage them in the process and keep trying. (Sounds like she is doing the same thing in return!)

    Thank you for stopping by, I really like your blog as well.

  3. Thanks for stopping by Mayberry Magpie! In real life, I curse way tooooooo much. I try to keep it to a minimum on my blog (for the little old ladies in my town who read me), but I often let loose when posting comments on others' blogs. Double standard, I know, but thank you for making me feel at home by saying shit in this post.

    My biggest pet peeve in the world is picky eaters. Hate 'em. My kids eat what I cook or they don't eat and I've always had that attitude. Not surprisingly now as teenagers, they eat most anything. Once when I was on a macrobiotic kick I made miso soup. My son said "Wow these noodles are crunchy" about the bean sprouts. And my daughter asked what the tofu was. I said "tofu" and she said "what's that?" I said, "Um, like cheese." Does that count as lying? At least they ate the soup!

  4. @Phoo-D and Magpie, thanks for coming by and witnessing my shame. I swear, if it takes 20 tries to get Miss D. to eat buttered noodles, I will slit my throat before this project is over.

    @Amy: yeast is ALIVE!!! Be afraid!

  5. I love this post! I admit it, I actually bought that damn book. I made some crazy cupcakes with avocado and the icing had cauliflower in it. My girls had half of one and then they sat like lead bombs in the fridge. I came to the same conclusion as you...they need to know what they are eating. Now they see the asparagus that is on their plate in plain site. If they don't eat it, then no snacks or dessert. Then they usually go to bed hungry and wake up starving, begging for that darn sugary cereal, LOL! (And BTW, I am really not that crazy about cutting out sugar, it just so happens that for some reason this has been my topic this week. I am eating a cookie as I type this...)

  6. Gibby, I love it that you've tried some of those crazy recipes. And don't think we ALL haven't considered buying that damn thing.

  7. LOL Meatloaf is one of the few things my kids WILL eat, but then again, I wouldn't dare eat one that's a free-for-all for whatever is hiding in the refrigerator. Same ingredients every time- maybe I should rename it? And yes, it includes lots and lots of ketchup!

    When you visit, we're ordering out for dinner! :)

  8. @Sheri: Not only are we ordering out, WE are paying. I can't wait!

  9. I'll admit it. I have the book. I've tried it. I hide food . . . sometimes. And my mom and grandma rolled their eyes because they asked me what I thought went into spaghetti sauce and why did I think my mom made so many types of breads like banana and pumpkin. Apparently moms have been doing this tricky stuff for generations. I totally understand where you're coming from. I don't try this without also serving vegetables. And I like that apple sauce now makes all my muffins and cupcakes more moist. That my banana bread kicks my mom's banana bread in the ass. Turkey meatballs are moist. But I would never ever add anything to my beloved mash potatoes. That's just wrong. As for meatloaf, traditional kick ass recipe that I figured out. No vegetables.