Friday, May 16, 2014

FFwD: Food Revolution Day

This week, French Fridays with Dorie is participating in Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Day. The goal is to "get kids excited about food" by cooking a meal together. For the Doristas, the challenge was to select a recipe from Around My French Table that every child should know how to make, then have a little chef help to cook it.

At first, I was tempted to have Charlie help me prepare one of his tried-and-true AMFT favorites: gougeres (aka "cheesy poofs"), Dressy Pasta Risotto, or Almond Flounder Meuniere. None of these are especially healthy options, though, and even though it wasn't specified in our challenge, healthy eating is part of Jamie's whole mission (right?). So, I decided to choose a healthier option, despite the fact that Charlie is the most stubborn eater I've ever met in my life, and has only recently been willing to even nibble a vegetable. Any vegetable. He wouldn't even eat them as an infant. Frustrating.

I love soup. Especially Dorie's soups. They're a delicious, effortless way to eat loads of veg. I believe in soup's potential to get vegetables into my 4-year-old, and I believe that Charlie would like it, if he would taste it. I never imagined so much of my parenting energy would be spent trying to get this child to eat something--anything. I've tried the soup trick many times, and have never succeeded, but I still believe that he will eat them. Eventually.

Our dinner rule is that he doesn't have to eat it, but he does have to taste everything on his plate. If he won't taste it, he'll go to bed hungry. Charlie goes to bed hungry a lot, though we've been having a bit more success in the past two weeks. Chipping away at his resolve, I guess.

Charlie's been excited to help me cook lately. At his school, they started having the kids prepare lunch on Wednesdays. Now he wants to chop things all the time. Unfortunately, this has not translated into an excitement for trying what he's made. I hoped that if he helped me cook Dorie's Celery-Celery Soup, he'd taste it. Just one bite. It's a simple recipe, mostly involving peeling and chopping of vegetables. Perfect for a four-year-old.

I was thwarted before I even started. In the car on the way home from his preschool, I told him we were going to do a cooking project and make some soup when we got home. He pitched a tantrum the entire 20 minute drive home because we were making soup instead of pasta. Maybe we've lived in Italy too long. Charlie is adopting the Italian "must eat pasta at dinner" rule. My brain has yet to wrap itself around the argument that pasta has so many preparations that one could never tire of it, but Charlie agrees fully (as long as I contain my preparations to pomodoro, pesto, or carbonara.)

He refused to help cook. He's helped me make dinner every day this week, but the day I specifically asked him to? Not interested. Sorry, Jamie. Four year olds. What can I say?

My dog ate the loaf of homemade bread that I planned to serve with the soup (she's lucky she's cute), so I heated up some of Dorie's Swiss Chard Pancakes that were in the freezer. Charlie helped me make those, even if it was a month ago, so he did, technically, eat something he helped prepare. Does that count?

We had a bit of a dinner stand-off. He gobbled one of his two swiss chard pancakes. I held the second hostage until he tasted his soup. Fortunately, he loves those pancakes. There was a lot of grumbling, nose-wrinkling, and exclamations of how he didn't like the soup (prior to tasting it), but he did bring spoon to mouth.
Look at him, bracing to be disgusted.
And then you know what happened? He thought about it for a minute.
hmmm...if I admit that I like you, Mom wins.
Then he took another bite. Uncoerced!
If I make a sour face while eating, she won't catch on.
Before I knew it, I could see the bottom of his bowl, and he was chattering away as if he hadn't been a giant nudge all afternoon.
At least he's an equal opportunity discriminator. It's not like he'll only eat junk food and sweets. He won't eat those either. It takes work to be in the "zeroeth percentile" for weight! (His doctor actually said "zeroeth" at his 4 year checkup.) Earlier this week, he was excited to help me bake the Caramel-Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake from Dorie's book, Baking, for my birthday.

I encouraged him to taste the caramel after it was ready, because, I mean: CARAMEL. I wanted to stick my face in the bowl. He wouldn't do it. Whose child is this??? He's so crazy. I gave him a piece of cake after dinner, but he didn't touch it. Oh well.
I don't get it.

I need to keep pureed soup in the rotation so he doesn't forget he likes it.


  1. Definitely a victory! Congratulations!!!

  2. Congratulations on getting Charlie to eat soup! Our 3 year old grandson is pretty much the same way about soup unless its tomato. That he loves! There is no understanding the appetites, tastes and contradictions of a child:)

  3. Yeahhhh! Both of you did great!

  4. Bravo!! He ate the soup such a good boy! He is so cute with his apron and chef's hat!

  5. LOL - so glad he liked the soup, and he is such a cutie. He can send me his slice of cake - yum. I didn't touch vegies as a kid either, and only when I went to college and learned I'd starve if I didn't eat them did I discover that they weren't so bad after all.

  6. What fun! At least for us. I suspect it's a lot more humorous to you in retrospect! Happy that he liked the soup. And it sounds like your dog is a cousin of ours - he/she certainly knows what to grab - homemade bread!

  7. This whole post made me laugh and I loved the picture stream that went with it!

  8. I loved reading this Post. It was almost, just almost, as good as your charming rants about shopping at the government grocery stores. Charlie sounds like a boy, a normal, that's-who-I-am-Mom, little character. I think he gets a star for participation on some level - just finishing that soup is in way-to-go-Charlie territory. Happy Food Revolution Day 2014 from Colorado to Naples, Ei.

  9. So funny - last night for one of my FRD classes I made "garden glut" soup = basically lots of green veggies. All the kids LOVED it. Way to go to get kids excited about veggies!

  10. My kids eat pretty much anything and people think they are just "naturally' like that... I held firm like you... always have to taste rule, had the kids cook with me, had them garden with my husband... it will all come together eventually... soup is definitely a triumph... and remember when it really gets tough... have a little more wine.

  11. What a cute post. He might be stubborn, but you'll get there. It sounds like you've got him pointed in the right direction, enjoying the cooking part. One day, the tasting (and eating) what he made will come.

  12. Your boy is adorable ! I know how you feel. Some nights I am just glad that dinner got over without much fuss. Kids can sometimes be so uncompromising.. but we mothers definitely know to get things done our way :) Glad that he tasted and liked his soup !

  13. We have the same rule in our house, must try everything on your plate. My son too loves pasta but he has turned into a plain buttered pasta man. He eats soup but doesn't like it, must be a kid thing. Love your post.

  14. That's great that he decided to try it. I especially love the photo of him with the chef's hat!