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The motto in my kitchen for meals is basically “take it or leave it.” When the children were small, they were generally good eaters. For the most part, they ate anything I put in front of them.
As they grew and new foods were continually being introduced certain likes and dislikes surfaced. If I was serving them something new they were not allowed to say they didn’t like it unless they had taken several bites and given it a fair chance.
Sometimes, they genuinely didn’t care for certain foods, and it wasn’t always the taste they didn’t like. For Whitney, we learned she has issues with textures of food. Cooked carrots, apples sauce, mashed potatoes, she can only eat a few bites before the texture gets to her, and she cannot finish the serving.
I learned that the hard way.
One evening at supper I became exasperated with her shoving her carrots around and informed her she was not to leave the table until she finished all of them off her plate. After the fourth bite, she started to gag and with the last bite she had to run for the sink, where she lost her entire supper. So that was probably the last time she ever ate cooked carrots.
I solved this situation by serving peas and carrots together. She would sort out all her carrots and give them to Delaney, who would sort out all her peas and dump them on Whitney’s plate. With this exchange, at least, they were both eating vegetables and no food was wasted.
My son Walker will eat anything except Miracle Whip or mayonnaise. Not sure when his taste buds rebelled on that because he ate plenty of sandwiches made with both of those spreads when he was little. Other than this one odd food rejection, he is willing to try anything and will eat everything I put in front of him.
Delaney is my pickiest eater. Her list of foods she doesn’t care for is almost longer than the foods she does like. One big category she dislikes in any shape, form or kind is cheese. She avoids any recipe that calls for any type of cheese. This includes macaroni and cheese, the staple food of American kids.
Many times, when I fixed mac and cheese with cut up hot dogs mixed in with the pasta, she would fish out all the little hot dog pieces and leave the rest of the bowl untouched. She loves melt sandwiches only without the cheese.
I tell her that’s not technically a melt sandwich, because there is nothing to melt. The only pizza she will eat is cheese pizza, which she then proceeds to peel off the layer of cheese and eats the crust with sauce. Try ordering that at a restaurant. “I want a cheese pizza please, hold the cheese.”
Her sister Kinzey, who loves cheese, is always happy for the extra layer to double up on her slice.
Kinzey, who ate anything and everything for me, throughout her entire elementary years, suddenly decided in her freshman year, that she did not like my goulash or creamed chicken gravy over biscuits. These are two of my staple recipes and loved by everyone else in the family.
However, she loves salads so on the nights I serve these meals I make sure I have a side salad and jam bread and she is perfectly happy to eat the sides and skip the main course.
Jaicey is a lover of food, and usually has no complaints. This may have to do with the fact, that as the youngest, she has seen my exasperation and frustration with the older ones when they voice their displeasure at one menu choice or another.
Her only complaints are when I inadvertently serve the same meal at suppertime as their school lunch. This happens more frequently than what the odds should dictate I would think, but not being the best mathematician what do I know.
They do assure me it is always better than the schools version, no offense intended to any of the school cooks. I realize I have better material to work with.
It’s difficult keeping up with seven different people’s random changes of taste. Regardless of their palette quirks, one thing that doesn’t change is our pattern of eating our suppertime meal together as a family.
It may not seem important to them now, but someday they will look back on these mealtimes with fond memories. They may not remember what the conversations were about or what food was served, but they will remember the feelings of safety, security, family, love, and especially the laughter of which there is always plenty.
When the kids ask me “What’s for dinner?” my reply can always be “A large serving of family togetherness, with a side of laughter, and dessert of course, is always love.”