Kids and food

Ruth Reichl, editor in chief of Gourmet magazine, wrote a great letter from the editor in the March edition of Gourmet.  She basically ranted on children and food.

People have written me before and asked me about how did I get my kids to become foodies.  I have thought a lot about that since people have asked.  First of all, I never fed my kids special meals to accommodate them.  What I served is what they ate.  If they didn’t like it, they didn’t eat.  I always introduced them to new flavors and encouraged them to try which they did.  If they didn’t like it, fine but most of the time they liked it.  I also made cooking a fun activity.  We made cookies, cakes, cupcakes and dinners together.  Becoming part of the process made them become more interested in food as they got older.

Emily loves to read the latest food magazines that come in the house.  Every one of our kids put in their 2 cents about what is for dinner.  This past Saturday there were 3 overripe bananas and Emily asked what they were for.  I said I was planning on doing something with them.  She said, let me. She made a delicious banana bread and through in some dried cranberries which was really changed the entire flavor of the bread.  So good. 

Reichl went off about restaurants that cater to children – that would be chicken fingers and mac and glue.  She says that grown-ups offer them choices that are not what the grown-ups are eating.  Why?  Offering kids a special menu says something.  Kids learn from their parents.  If parents continue to give their kids special menus like grilled cheese sandwiches then why would they make interesting decisions as they get older.  I particularly liked her last paragraph which I will quote.

"Sitting down to dinner, at any age, should be an invitation to the fabulous banquet that is life.  The most important lesson that we learn at the table is that great rewards await those who take changes.  Do we really want to be telling our children, "just eat your nice chicken nuggets?" It would make much more sense to say, "Pull up a chair.  Take a taste.  Come join us.  Life is so endlessly delicious."

Comments (Archived):

  1. fred

    “threw in some dried cranberries”

  2. erin

    Hooray! As the mother of an 8-month old girl, I agree and plan to follow the above suggestions: don’t cater with special “kid” meals and make cooking fun. (p.s., love Fred’s correction…such a KIA–in our house that means Know IT ALL).

    In an effort to introduct new flavors to our daughter, I’ve used Karbel’s cookbook called First Meals. It’s quite good. I’ve also just fed her foods that can be mashed up a little. While the jarred foods have come a long way, most are bland and the variety is not that great. For instance, Earth’s Best does not have broccoli??

    Sevrin has had chicken, halibut and pork tenderloin. Without some home cooking this would not be possible. Also, this cookbook introduced me to parsnips. Somehow I’ve missed this wonderous veggie.

  3. Elizabeth H.

    Thanks so much! I totally agree with the sentiments on kid’s menus.