If you want to test the aerodynamic qualities of boiled beans, give them to my 20 month-old toddler. My kid will not eat plain chicken or mashed potatoes. She does not like oatmeal. When I sidle up to the table with plain grilled salmon, she dramatically proclaims: “No way!”
For a while I was truly perplexed by her eating behaviours. I was pretty convinced that she was actually subsisting on vapour. How was she even alive not to mention running me ragged by dodging my attempts to get her soother out of her mouth?
I brought it up with my doctor and she seemed un-phased.
“Kids start to go through a fussy eater phase when they’re about 2.. don’t worry too much about it..” Well if my amazing doctor seemed un-phased, then obviously I could come down from my Defcon 4 perch and breathe a little.
After a while I relaxed in the kitchen. I stopped making a distinction between ‘toddler food’ and the meals I’d make for Hubs and myself. I figured, if she wasn’t going to eat it anyways, I might as well forget the bland chicken and giver her a helping of my lime and cilantro smothered grilled cod.
And that’s when I realized it.
My daughter is a foodie.
“Mo! Mo!!” she exclaimed, bits of cilantro smeared on her tiny face. Hubs and I sat there in gourmet shock. I tentatively spooned some of my couscous salad on her plate.
It never stood a chance.
For a couple of months I experimented with this new theory. When we were out for Sushi one night, she cleared me out of my California rolls, got into the BBQ eel, and if that’s not enough, made short work of my seaweed salad.
When we were in Florida, she ate my crab cakes. She actually stole them. But she only had a small mouth full of chocolate cake at a recent toddler birthday. She just wasn’t into it (like I was). She was too busy eating the honey mustard chips and asking me for her cookies, which of course are nothing less than organic ginger snaps. And let me tell you, these things have a bite.
She lives for olives, pickles, arugula, and basil. Her favourite veggies are broccoli, tomato, and cucumber. (She will actually hug them.) She takes her sweet potatoes with a dash of cinnamon, likes shrimp with her quinoa, and enjoys a good chana masala or the buttery spice of seasoned conch.
She enjoys tart and savoury tastes – the pungent smokey sweetness of Paprika in one of my dad’s killer Gulyas stews; the hot brine of a cabbage roll; Salsa Verde; the balsamic and olive oil on a caprese salad. If it’s on a Summerlicious menu, apparently my kid will eat it.
So what’s the problem?
I’ll admit. I get teeny bit frustrated that she will not go near a ham sandwich, or macaroni and cheese. When she scoffs at apples, or throws a mean curve ball with a handful of pot roast. I get concerned that she wakes up to ask me for her beloved ’Cado (avocado) along with her bottle of milk.
Am I not feeding her right? Is this some weird form of Pica? Is she craving trace minerals that only kalamata olives can supply? Or sushi? Or chutney? Or is she just… advanced? What if her taste exceeds mine and the next thing I know she’s eating sea urchins stuffed with whole garlic cloves, or some awesome delicacy of fricasseed innards?
I mean when you have a kid who’s obviously gifted you consider putting them ahead a grade. But what do you do with a foodie? Take them to Au Pieds de Cochon?
That’s when I realized something.
It’s not her palette that is sophisticated. It’s her spirit.
Every time we sit down to a table, the first word out of her mouth is ‘TRY.’ Something I think I may have closed myself off to a while ago.
She pleads with me to let her try sips of mineral water, pieces of pickled ginger, and licks of lemon. She is open to the worst tastes and the best. She laughed and cried when she bit into a raw hot pepper – in the middle of Loblaw’s no less.
If that isn’t an adventurous spirit I don’t know what is.
So maybe instead of worrying so much about nutrients, I should celebrate her love of ‘trying’ by taking her out to dinner.
I think I’ll let her do the ordering.