“ONE BITE WON’T KILL YOU!”
You may know by now that I collect cookbooks and recipes, recipe boxes (preferably filled with someone else’s recipe collection), cookie jars and cookie cutters—and I like to cook. I enjoy baking—cookies, bread, pastries, pot roast; I love to make soups—and there is very little that I haven’t tried with the exception of snails and snake (neither of which I am going to ever change my mind about. Some things are better left slithering outside on the ground). I enjoy making jellies, jams, chutneys and relishes.
However, there’s one thing you may not know about me: I am the mother of four sons, now all married and providing me with darling grandchildren My sons are what we used to refer to as “Picky Eaters”. What made the situation impossible is that their father was the pickiest one of all. I married a man who was the youngest in his family. He was a sickly child; consequently, he was babied and catered to throughout his childhood. For starters, he wouldn’t touch a cream pie, cucumbers, meat loaf or any kind of leftovers. It didn’t matter that the beef stew was made from last night’s pot roast and the brown mushroom gravy
was thick and yummy. It was leftovers.
So here’s the thing – you have a picky husband and when he says “ew, ew, what’s that?” and you try to explain that it’s baked chicken with grapes – and he says what person in their right mind would mix grapes with chicken—you know there’s not a chance of a snowball in July that any of your children are going to even taste the chicken and grapes either.
Son Steve doesn’t eat beans—not even jelly beans. Once when he was little, I was making liver and onions and when he asked what it was, I told him Salisbury Steak. To this day, he doesn’t eat liver and onions or Salisbury Steak.
None of them will eat any kind of cookie with nuts added to the dough; I make separate batches of chocolate chip cookies sans nuts—for all of them every year.
My youngest ate nothing but peanut butter (smooth, never chunky) and jelly sandwiches throughout First Grade and never touched peanut butter and jelly after that. None of them would any kind of Jello (least of all with ingredients added to it). There is a family story about Steve and “Ingredients”. When he was about six, he was reading the label on a can of Campbell’s Soup. “Mom!” he cried, “This soup has INGREDIENTS!”
None of them would eat oatmeal cookies (never mind that it was my favorite cookie) – and forget adding raisins, nuts or anything else to them. (Nowadays I make oatmeal cookies for myself).
My sons will eat my brownies but only if there are no nuts added to them. The only kind of cake Steve and Kelly like is angel food, with a deep rich chocolate fudge glaze drizzled over it. I think their wives are attempting to get them to overcome these prejudices. I wish them luck.
I guess I can confess now that I tricked them from time to time. I had this great Halibut Almondine recipe that I found when we lived in Florida. (It worked equally well with Grouper, a nice white fish that’s available there). Well, none of them would ever eat fish with almonds sprinkled on it, so I’d grind the almonds up in the blender and mix them in with bread crumbs and sprinkle that over the fish. They never knew.
I cooked full course meals every night for over 25 years—always standard, plain fare—the kind of food they would eat. Fried chicken, biscuits and gravy, mashed potatoes and corn. (They didn’t like any other vegetables). Spaghetti and meatballs. Lasagna. Macaroni and cheese (the KRAFT blue box). Hamburgers.
They will eat most Mexican food (except Steve doesn’t eat the refried beans) but not Chinese, Korean, Thai, French, German, or most anything else that is “foreign”. Hot dogs and baked beans (no beans for Steve) were ok. Steak was always acceptable but who can eat steak on a ground beef budget? I don’t think any of them ever tasted potato salad or cole slaw.
If I were to say to any of them “One bite won’t kill you!”, they would roll their eyes and give me this doubtful look. Like, how could I be sure it wouldn’t kill them?
Well, they are all grown up now and on their own and some one else deals with their food idiosyncrasies When they come home for a meal, I make what they like – pork roast with mashed potatoes and gravy, applesauce and corn. Or, if it’s breakfast—pork chops or cube steak with biscuits and gravy, hash browns and eggs, fried with butter over easy. And, I am relieved to report, their father and I parted company 25 years ago and someone else has to deal with his eating peculiarities. My significant other for the past 20-something years is a man who eats anything I put in front of him and what’s more – he likes it. Well, with one exception. He wasn’t too crazy about spaghetti squash. Even though I told him, “One bite won’t kill you!”