Tough Patrons

Kids MeaI like cooking. Cooking is fun. Chopping, dicing, sifting, grilling – all great. It’s cathartic as well, helps me relax, gives me time to think. I like nothing better than to prepare a nice meal.

Cooking for kids? I’d rather chop my little finger off, drizzle it with olive oil and grill it with a herb crust.

Demanding? Did I say demanding? It’s like cooking for Gordon Ramsey…but a super Gordon Ramsey; a Gordon Ramsey who is perfectly willing to throw the said prepared food, openly weep whilst eating it or mush it with enough venom that it doesn’t resemble any known food stuff known to man (except, maybe, that funny gloopy stuff they eat on the depressing ship in the 1st Matrix film).

We used to cook lavish banquets of food for our children with ingredients from around the world, all organic – oh yes, only the finest produce – some of it marinated and prepared hours in advance to give the best, most perfect flavour. Risottos, freshly prepared pizzas, stir-frys, home-made fishcakes, home-made fish fingers – I even grew a beard and bleached it white so that I resembled Captain Birdseye (okay, I made that last bit up. But, I do hope that they have stopped Captain Birdseye sailing around on his ship, entirely staffed by children, luring hungry kids on board with his fishy fingers. He’s taken child abduction to a grand scale like a pedophile bond villian…).

What happens after we have dished up these creations? Do they smack their lips, rub their tummies and say: ‘daddy, you have surpassed yourself, this lemon risotto is to die for!’

No. DS will not even try it. We have to bribe him with other food, blander food, in order to get him just to try it. How crazy is that? It also depends on what kind of mood he’s in. If he’s in a happy-go-lucky mood, he’ll give it a try and maybe even like it. It’s not like we’re giving him something that tastes horrible. I made a lemon risotto once, with so much butter and fresh parmesan that it was like ambrosia. It could only have been more decadent if I sprinkled uncut cocaine on it. Did he like it? He did not.

DD, whose spirit of adventure is legendary, will chuck anything in her gob if it’s cool enough and she can use the spoon herself. Control is very important to DD. Her normal sign of disapproval is to spit out the food with a dismissive sneer and for extra emphasis swipe all the rest onto the floor. She will then round this off by attempting to flee.Fay Maschler has some tricks to learn off of DD.

Then there is the choice of how much to make them. Do we make more than enough, so that if they have huge appetite they won’t go hungry? Or do we make a stand on food waste and cook a kid sized portion but run the risk of them wanting more and then filling them up with rice cakes and anything else we can nab from the cupboard?

What I have figured out is that our children’s idea of happiness is eating plain pasta in a buffet style, naked, in front of Charlie and Lola, whilst Mummy / Daddy / butler / skivvy tops up their beakers with milk and occasionally peels the odd grape to slip into their mouths so that they don’t miss any of Charlie and Lola.

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