Monday, May 16, 2011

Mini-victory: pepper bracelets and cucumber snakes

My daughters love vegetables. Crunchy raw vegetables of every color. It’s solely my doing: I've been pushing the vegetable thing and eating veggies in their presence and, in short, not offering them an alternative since they could chew. I beam at you contentedly from my tower of maternal achievement, flanked by my healthy, glowing offspring.

And then there’s my son.

B.A. was born into the same healthy home with a lot of the same genes as his sisters. But he didn’t get the memo, apparently. That boy hates vegetables with a deep and abiding loathing. He hates them so much that if he is so much as offered a sweet potato, he will hurl it to the floor and then hurl everything else after it: all the pasta and milk and cheese he has been enjoying up thus far, cast off the table as he howls in indignation. He tears off his bib and grasps for the runner and vase of flowers at the table’s center, desperate to make his point.

Our apartment is a block from a dream of an open-air market. He does not care. We live in a tiny country where the produce still tastes like produce and everything is local, fresh and abundant. He remains unconcerned. He hates his vegetables.

He does not like them raw and crunchy, like his sisters (and his lazy mother) prefer. He does not like them tossed with oil and salt and roasted to caramelized sweetness.  He does not like them coated in cheese and butter. He will not be fooled. He recognizes those flecks of orange in his pasta sauce, those spots of green in his eggs. No dice. He cheerfully slurps delicious dips of all sorts off his carrots, then thanks them for their service and tosses them, yes, to the floor.

B.A. models a pepper ring

But he will sometimes be enticed by food presented as a plaything. I’m not talking about elaborate veggie-sculptures of smiley faces or broccoli forests, etc. Those projects make me tired just thinking about them. What we do over here is cut colorful peppers into bracelets and rings. When B.A. sees his sisters wearing vegetable jewelry, he will usually join in the fun. And once the pepper is on his arm, well, there’s no harm in taking a nibble or two . . .

So there’s that. And I have also found that most vegetables are somewhat attractive if they are presented as menacing rattlesnakes slowly cutting a path across the table, hissing and biting hands and faces as they go. That one took me through fussy phases with the girls, and it’s a good way of introducing new vegetables.

These strategies will only get B.A. eating the tiniest bits. I hope his system can creep along on trace nutrients. I love these kids and I want them to eat well. Sometimes it can become a bit of an obsession, and I have to recalibrate. Especially because children are moving targets and every strategy grows stale eventually. But in the meantime, I’ll be in the kitchen, carving peppers into jewelry.


AR said...

You have a runner on your table? with FLOWERS?! That's amazing.

We gave up tablecloths years ago. True, our fine wood table is warping and cracking...but no more changing wet, dirty tablecloths after every meal. It wasn't worth it.

Sometimes I put a small bowl with flowers far back on kitchen counter, up and away from little grabbing hands. It really is nice to have flowers around.

Well, enjoy your flowers and your kids! Thanks for your blog; I really look forward to your posts.

ima said...

If you peel and dice zuchinni (kishuim there) into quiche it is clear and cooks into it and he may not know.... he will survive, and will probably count ketchup as a vegetable for the rest of his life.

Chaya said...

Ima, thanks for the tip!

Chaya said...

Yes, a runner with flowers. Although I usually roll it up and move it aside for mealtime, for obvious reasons.

I find it soothing to have a single point of order and beauty amidst the crazy. We also go with the bare table these days. I used to use place mats until B.A. learned to throw them. It's just one more thing to wash, anyway. said...

chaya, you are THE BEST! loved this, thanks!

diana said...

chaya! i love your blog! there's a cute cookbook by jerry seinfeld's wife called "deceptively delicious" wherein she incorporates untraceable veggies into EVERYTHING (including cookies, cakes, etc.)... you may like it!

Post a Comment

Hi! I love comments. Please choose a name to comment, anything but Anonymous.