Izzy (and Mama) Eat: The Gourmand Grows up...

Tales of Empty Nesting ...The Next Chapter

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Eat What You Love..And Your Children Will Follow

My child only eats (fill in the blank with all manner of bland or unhealthy foods). "Oh really," I am tempted to respond, "He's awfully young to go shopping. Where on earth does he get his hands on that?"

I suspect that many parents don't feel like engaging in the negotiations that may inevitably occur when trying to introduce new foods. Others immediately assume their child doesn't like "fill in the blank" after they have offered it a few times. That is most likely not the case.
Children may be reluctant to try new things for a variety of reasons. For many it is a textural issue and if they are exposed to the aroma first, then texture (even with fingers. Once the child is familiar with the aroma and texture, tasting will be more likely to follow. Many people don't realize that this could take as many as 12 encounters or more with a particular food. It isn't likely to occur immediately. Meanwhile, parents should be eating those foods and expressing joy and delight so that their children can see how wonderful the experience will be.

I was reminded of this today, when, on our way to the East Village, I offered Izzy the choice of pizza (I am dying to try Una Pizza Napoletana), or Momofuku Noodle Bar. The Noodle Bar was the clear winner, no budging on that decision. Our early meals there when he was about two and a few months clearly made the right impression on him.

Today we had the Shitaake Mushroom Buns(two generously filled buns with sauteed shitaakes and sweet pickled cucumber slices. Truly a textural marvel of soft/oily/crunchy. This was followed by a giant bowl of Momofuku Ramen, which as you can see, is filled with all manner of tastes and textures, from the crisp of the seaweed to the unctuous porky pieces, each component a wonder.

I watched as Izzy lustily tucked into his soup, slurping up spoonful after spoonful of broth and fishing out tidbits with his fingers. What better way to initiate children into the pleasures of the table then with this bowl of ramen noodles..

p.s When you do take your children out for taste experimentation, it helps to have them hungry (this works best when they are over three). They will be more likely to try what is put in front of them. They may resist for a few minutes but if they see that is all there is, they will be more inclined to at least take a few bites.


tammy said...

So very true. And that beautiful top picture says it all.

Anonymous said...

I'm very impressed with what your child will eat. But have you considered the possibility that he is just a very adventurous eater by nature? I'm sure that all the good work you're doing exposing him to these foods is extremely helpful (if you'd only given him chicken nuggets, then that's what he would be eating, of course). But there are many of us who try as hard as you do, and our children don't eat that way. It's possible that if you were to have another child, then you would have a picky eater, too. It isn't just about what the parents do, some of it is just the nature of the child, I think.

Izzy's Mama said...

Loren: Often mothers will tell me that they "try" to expose their children to a variety of foods, etc. but when I delve into it with them I discover that they merely think they are. There is often a loophole somewhere. I advise moms often on the subject but after I describe what it entails they admit that they are just not into doing what it takes.

In the beginning Izzy did not automatically eat everything. On countless occasions he would say, "I don't want X". And I would have to say, "oh well, that's what we have."

Have you read this?