She’s her daddy’s girl (she hates tomatoes) but she’s her mama’s girl too (she keeps trying to like them)
Ali asked me about how my wacky vegetables are received, because her husband doesn’t appreciate her Black Krim tomatoes on looks alone. (To be fair, I believe it was George Carlin who once said that the insides of tomatoes are somehow stuck in pupal stage: the darned things just don’t look, uh, done yet, and that might be people’s biggest hurdle in eating them.) Well, no secret here to those who know him, but MY husband is probably one of the bigger gardening obstacles out there. His food issues are legion. Since he married me, thankfully, these issues are at least not growing in number.
So, how goes the skirret, El? How did you get your toddler to eat beets, or frisee? How did you persuade that husband to try cardoon? What tricks did you employ to make Brussels sprouts and kohlrabi palatable to a two-year-old’s palate? How is it your three-year-old became a thief of peas?
Exposure. Exposure, and a really tough stance as the cook: This is all I’m serving, so you better eat it.
To be honest, really young children are simply amazingly curious, and turning them loose in the garden is one fabulous way to nurture this intrinsic curiosity. She helps me plant the things, is the quick answer; she helps me harvest them, too. She helps with preparation (within reason: she will quite readily gorge herself on cucumbers or green beans so that she’s got no room for dinner). So kids (in my book) are easy. I have never made or served “baby food” to the kid. She has always eaten what we eat, hot and spicy or rich and creamy or, dang it all, crunchy. No babying the baby here!
Tom, though, is a puzzle. There are so many rules. So I have attacked this problem with a counteroffensive of my own rules. You must eat at least two bites of it is rule one. You must never show your distaste for it in front of the kid is rule two. In compromise, I will try to mix things up or mask them heavily with garlic if I think they will be offensive to him. (Garlic and salt are great levelers in this household.) And I promise to never serve a raw tomato.