Picking Peppers

This has already come up once or twice before, but in feeding Laurel we’ve been trying to ensure that she gets accustomed to variety in her food, and to explore lots of tastes. The basic thinking is that children grow up liking whatever they’re fed early in life. Kids raised on the sort of bland, flavorless pap that comprises the bulk of the American mainstream baby diet (even leaving aside the gradual slide of western baby feeding into the same nutritional wasteland of adult consumption) aren’t getting any real excitement or depth of experience in their food, and they may well grow up with that expectation. It’s certainly possible to reverse the acclimation — most people I know who enjoy unusual foods discovered them in early adulthood — but why start down the route of strained veal and mashed peas at all if it’s avoidable? This isn’t a nutritional concern so much as an aesthetic one; food should be a positive experience. Eating new things should be a pleasure.

One aspect that I’ve been particularly enthusiastic about is spicy food, so it’s been very gratifying that Laurel’s taken to spices so readily. This morning, after eating a helping of curried cauliflower and most of the sesame/soy/rooster sauce I’d been intending for myself, she started in on some shredded chicken. Now, chicken’s not an exciting meat. I’ve read that it was better before mass production of poultry, but I doubt it’s ever been radically different, and this certainly wasn’t. She kept taking fingerfulls of the stuff back out of her mouth and trying to feed them to me; that’s sometimes a sign of generosity, but often a sign that she prefers something to be in someone’s mouth other than hers. So I started dipping it in a vaguely jamaican hot pepper sauce. This improved her feelings substantially. She still took the chicken back out of her mouth, but this time in order to dip it in the sauce again before resuming chewing. We finished the last of the bottle that way, and after running out of pourable sauce I simply gave her the bottle, whereupon she spent the next ten minutes trying to extract as much from it as possible.

Y’know, you find yourself taking pride in your kids in all sorts of unexpected ways.

– Devin

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