My wife, Kathleen, accuses me of being a picky eater. Other people do, too, and they’re probably right. I’m normally the only person at a picnic who doesn’t eat potato salad or coleslaw.
I get tickled at listening to parents talk about the trouble they have getting their kids to eat certain foods. Or even certain types of foods. Kathleen admits that she avoided veggies (which she now loves) and ate canned soup rather than her mom’s homemade pizza during her childhood and that her two girls went through a phase of eating only hot dogs and cheese.
I didn’t have the option of objecting to what I was served. Or of refusing to eat it. There were no hassles about it. No protests. No bargains or compromises. And with rare exceptions I had to eat all of it. I couldn’t tell you why I was so complacent about my eating except to say I was a complacent child in general.
Oh, the things I had to eat that I detested! Spinach and other leafy green vegetables, yellow squash, butter beans (lima beans were even worse). Even tomatoes. (At least until they started growing almost seedless ones.) And especially stewed tomatoes.
Mother never fixed regular grits, but I’ll never forget the one time she served hominy grits. Eating them made me think I was eating moth balls! I don’t think she cared for them, either, since she never fixed them again.
Some things I enjoyed eating, though.
I was crazy about most meats. We seldom had steak, but we did eat roast beef and veal fairly often. We were more apt to have lamb chops than pork chops. We ate bacon, though, and my mother made the best bacon waffles. I’m not sure how the bacon cooked adequately in the waffle iron, but I believe she laid raw bacon in the batter when it started cooking.
For whatever reason, with rare exceptions (like the bacon waffles) breakfast was always toast, bacon, and scrambled eggs. We didn’t normally eat loaf bread at other meals. On occasion, however, Mother baked homemade cinnamon rolls. I salivate at the memory even now.
My mother baked some really good cakes, and I’ll never forget her homemade gingerbread, topped with a white topping I remember only as “hard sauce.” She also baked caramel cakes, but I didn’t care very much for them. Good thing I wasn’t forced to eat desserts, huh?
I look back at the wonderful foods I enjoy now and marvel that my mother never fixed them. I never had pizza until I was in high school and that was at someone else’s house. I don’t think I had ever ate spaghetti or any other pasta dish (except maybe mac ‘n’ cheese) until I was at college. Sloppy Joes? College, also.
Once I got out on my own, I rebelled at eating foods I hated. I still detest most vegetables; that’s what vitamin pills take the place of, right? I’m not an adventurous eater, although I successfully tried several Cajun dishes on a job-related visit to New Orleans. Including alligator-on-a-stick.
I honestly don’t know whether parents are doing the right thing in just working hard to get their kids to eat–period. But force-feeding kids foods they don’t like has its drawbacks.
What about you? Did you have to eat what was served or did your parents work with you on the basis of your individual tastes? Are there any particular foods you avoid now because of an unhappy experience with them when you were younger? Or is there anything else you’d like to share about eating as a kid or as an adult? Please leave a comment.
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