As I made egg salad tonight for the kids' Thursday lunches, I considered adding some green olives, maybe some shredded carrot, flat leaf parsley... but then, sigh, I realized that the chances of them eating it if I did anything new to it were slim to none. How did I end up here?
For dinner tonight I made polenta and veggie brats with some garden veggies on the side. O didn't even make it to the table before announcing that he would not eat the polenta. But see, he has always loved polenta. I remind him of this but he is adamant that no polenta will be consumed by him. I serve him other things. Then he scoops up polenta, puts it on his plate, eats it down and goes back for seconds. We run through a version of this scenario almost every night.
E is just now old enough to understand that what there is for food is what there is and she will generally eat it (unless it is mushrooms or onions) even if she does not love it. But even tonight, she couldn't resist a little jab that only the crispiest polenta was any good.
The fussiness of children (and mine are actually not that bad compared to some I'm met) when it comes to food is nothing new, but I realized tonight with the egg salad how much I've given in to it. There is a whole list of stuff I just do not cook because of the response it will get -- sometimes before it is even tasted. The eggplants I grew in the garden are still on the vine, because I can't see the point in cooking them only to have them rejected. But I love eggplant.
Besides narrowing my repertoire, I realize that I've taken to making food the same way over and over. The stir fry (a staple around here) usually has the same veggies and tofu (small people reject the tempeh I love) in it every time, for example. And it is the same deal with the egg salad. I've never put green olives in before, so I'm reasonably sure the kids would look with horror at their sandwiches tomorrow if I added some now.
Where all of this leaves me is with a new found appreciation of my grandmother who has never ever made any dish the same way twice. Marinara sauce is more a category of saucy foods than an actual recipe. Almost anything savory is likely to be put in a roux and served over toast at lunch at her place. While people in my family have used some of her more unusual combinations of ingredients as fodder for jokes, I've now decided she was on to something. She has managed everyone's expectations so that she can insert some measure of creativity and diversity in 'standard' dishes. She could put green olives in the egg salad and everyone would just chuckle and then EAT IT.
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