Tuesday, 1 March 2011

How to get children to eat well.

Everything I know, I’ve learned from books.
Every meal I’ve eaten, I tasted first in words.

I’ve waited for breakfast with Wilbur in Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White): “Skim milk, crusts, middlings, bits of doughnuts, wheat cakes with drops of maple syrup sticking to them"

I’ve eaten dinner with Heidi (Johanna Spyri): “...hungrily beginning her bread, having first spread it with the cheese, which after being toasted was as soft as butter."

I’ve made candy with Laura and Mary in the Little House in the Big Woods. (Laura Ingalls Wilder):  " Pa and Ma showed them how to pour the dark syrup in little streams on to the snow.  These hardened at once and were candy. Laura and Mary might eat one piece each, but the rest were saved for Christmas Day.”

I’ve shared potato latkes with the family in Ten and a Kid. (Sadie Rose Weilerstein):
“...soon the first pancake was sizzling in the hot fat. It covered the whole bottom of the pan. The children stood by watching and sniffing, each with an earthenware plate in hand."

This is what I learned as a child from hours of reading about lives far away from mine:
  • Sometimes you have to eat leftovers
  • Bread and cheese and milk equals a meal
  • You can't eat all your sweets in one go
  • Hunger makes food taste better.
  • There is not abundance for everyone.

That’s what I’ve tried to teach my children.

I cook whatever I think is delicious and serve it to them like they are the luckiest children in the world.  When they try something new and tell me they don’t want mushrooms or beetroot or lentils or whatever, I ignore them, giving them a tiny look of “are you joking me?” 

In the evening and in the morning, meal after meal, day after day, I show them what I know about food and eating. There is pleasure and conversation. There are rhythms and occasions. There are no short cuts.

Here is how I make potato latkes.
1 kg potatoes
1 onion grated
2 eggs beaten
30 g flour
Salt and pepper
Sunflower oil for frying
Peel and grate potatoes. Squeeze out extra water.
Mix all ingredients together.
Heat oil one finger deep.
Drop dessertspoons of batter into oil.
Fry. Turn. Fry some more.
Drain on paper towel.

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