Last weekend, I had a friend, who used to be a caterer, over for dinner. We both have two kids and one picky eater each. I thought, because he was a chef, he’d give me the ole “if you let them cook with you, chances are they will be more interested in what you are making and be more apt to try it.” I have heard that so many times and that may work for the slightly picky/moody eater, but not mine. Case and point: tonight we made home made pizzas, using Mario Batali’s grilled pizza recipe. By the way, it was outrageously good and we did a whole pizza taste test where we grilled two pies and baked two in the oven on a stone. The grilled guys were 1000 times better, and I didn’t think pizza could get any better than from my oven stone. The grilling cooked it all the way through and made it crunchy and airy. Yum-o! Anyway, back to my picky eater, he had a blast helping me assemble the pizzas-he “painted” on the sauce and added the mozz, which was made fresh about an hour before from the cheese shop in my town. Did he want to eat any of the fresh cheese? No, his answer was only, “yucky,” as we were all inhaling it around him. He did, however, take a spoon and eat the grated Romano cheese out of the bucket. Why? I can’t even begin to explain this one.
Needless to say, he ate the pizza because it is one food he enjoys. But I can assure you, this had nothing to do with the fact that he helped me prepare it. We have tried this so many times where it doesn’t work.
However, the one thing I did notice this past weekend, was that he did break down and try something new when he saw another kid eat it. It’s almost like, seeing the other kid do it made my picky eater realize he would live if he gave it a bite. So my advice is, as part of the picky eater’s introduction to new foods, try it when you have some friends or family over when he can see people other than his parents or siblings trying things. I’m all about not pressuring the child to try new foods. He’ll come around when he’s ready. But I couldn’t contain myself when I saw him sampling a rib the other day.
The other thing my son did, which I thought was really cute, was take an interest in my garden. He is not intrigued, at least not yet, by the tomatoes that are just starting to pop, or the peas, but he did taste, with my slight encouraging, my herbs. I started with the mint plant, knowing he would like the taste, and he actually took a leaf and bit it. He said is famous line, “yucky” but then kept going and tried basil, thyme, and some lettuces and then back to the mint. To me, this was a milestone as I saw him try some pretty intense flavors and not run away screaming.
It may be that he is just maturing, but I do think these picky eaters will try foods in their own time and it is not something to worry about. As long as they are eating a balanced and healthy diet, if they never try the Boeuf Bourguignon that you slaved over, they’ll live even if it makes your life difficult.