Friday, August 21, 2009

A World Of Tastes

I've been thoroughly enjoying making curries lately, blending my own spice pastes and hot oil to release fragrant aromas throughout the house. In fact, I've been doing a lot of from-scratch cooking in the last while: baking bread, scones, brownies, creatively using pantry staples, and finding new ways to use clearance produce. In the midst of my foodie euphoria, however, I am having some trepidation.

Right now our family has adventurous palates. My husband will eat anything I make, and usually love it. My toddler will eat almost anything (except for some reason she doesn't like meat much), and my teething baby will try to eat ANYTHING she can get her hands on. And me, I love food. If it's edible, I'll eat it. But soon we will have new mouths to feed, who will probably be unused to many of the foods and flavours that we enjoy.

Take lamb for instance. I don't know a whole lot of people who like lamb. We love it! It has such a great, full-bodied flavour, and is nutritionally one of the best meats you can eat. Or Indian food. Spices like cumin, turmeric and cardamom, herbs like cilantro, pungent and foreign to many North Americans, are full of health-boosting benefits and are like comfort food to us. I know my own family (parents and siblings) won't eat these kinds of foods that we enjoy, so what will I do when I have to plan dinners with other children? Will I be stuck with beef, chicken, and potatoes? Plain?

One of our nephews had a limited range of tastes, and often the family resorted to feeding him plain noodles or hotdogs when a meal was not to his liking. I think nutrition is important, no matter what your age, but especially for children. I realize that you may not be able to get kids to consume all their required nutrients in a meal, or even in a day, but over the course of a week they OUGHT to be required to eat what their body needs. Options are good, but healthy options. If kids have the choice to substitute junk for healthy food, they will. I am a firm believer in offering healthy choices, like salad or carrot sticks, banana or apple, whole grain pasta or brown bread. My toddler can have milk or watered down juice a couple of times a day, but otherwise she has water. Pop is not an option.

I think it's great that people have different tastes, after all, variety is the spice of life. But if someone is a picky eater and only likes a couple of things, that is not okay. Man cannot live on bread alone. Sometimes we need to be pushed to broaden our tastes, and this often takes time and perseverence. I read that it may take 10 - 15 tries to get a toddler to try a new food. Dr. Seuss had the right idea in his book Green Eggs and Ham. It may take persistence, and it may take some extraordinary creativity in the presentation, but we can develop and acquire new tastes. After all, there's a whole world out there waiting to be discovered!

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