After a long day of sightseeing and shopping, we decided not to venture any further than the hotel that we stayed in for a quiet dinner. Besides, it was drizzling outside.
Anchored on the ground floor of Sheraton Park Tower that is situated across the historic Mandarin Oriental and next to Harvey Nichols, the restaurant fronts the main road, which is a busy thoroughfare in Knightsbridge, London. We gladly accepted a table away from the windows and obscured from the busy road. The service delivered at One-O-One was impeccable. Throughout the course of our dinner, the waiters were attentive and served us with charm and discretion.
The food, that did not take too long to arrive, was impressive in presentation. The yellow fin tuna with foie gras and summer truffle, accompanied with green asparagus and topped with a crispy parmesan biscuit was immensely awesome. Perched on top of the tuna was the foie gras that was lightly charred on the edges and cooked to perfection on the inside. The fondant potato, ninja-cut in precise dimension and stacked uniformly in layers, was wholesome and so robust in flavour. Kudos to Executive Chef Pascal Proyart.
My daughter quietly stared at her slow cooked cod served on a bed of white beans. It was pale in presentation compared to my dish but the familiarity of the cod ought to put her at ease. With the sad and listless look that reminded me of the Basset Hound used in Hush Puppies advertisements, she asked if she could exchange her food for mine. I was surprised. She liked cod and had ordered it on her own accord. Almost pleading, she promised that she would eat the seared tuna and foie gras.
I had a moment of doubt. Foie gras? Really?
She had resisted foie gras for as long as I can remember, possibly because she had heard my bad rant of a restaurant in Bali that served their version of foie gras with duck liver, instead of goose liver. It was a bad substitution. Or perhaps it was the way it was prepared. Overcooked. Chalky. Slightly bitter.
But I did the swap anyway. We were on holiday. It was a fancy restaurant. Why make a fuss?
As I looked at the massive bed of white beans, I knew why. She had read somewhere that beans make one fart big time and has probably make a point to remember that for life.
I looked across the table at my daughter. To my utter surprise, she was actually enjoying her food. I asked for a piece of her delicate foie gras. She shared a small piece, a really tiny cube of 1cm on all sides. I can understand why she hesitated in offering me a second helping. It was so good. Pan-fried to perfection with a slight crisp at the top and tender in the middle.
I was delighted… that she went out of her comfort zone. I could even overlook that she left one green asparagus on her plate.
Is she the picky eater or am I the fussy mom?
When she first started on solid foods, she ate everything that she was fed with, including all kinds of vegetables and fruits of all hues and textures. I was so pleased then.
Multi-tasking like a frantic competitor in Masterchef, I would plate up tasty, nutritious, well balanced and most visually appealing meal that would have been Instagram worthy, in the quickest time possible.
Those weekly trips to the supermarket were fuss free outing that she would look forward to. Sitting tall and secured comfortably on the sturdy trolley, she prized the advantage of being "taller" and the hawk's eye view of every item along the fresh food aisle. A quick stop by Haagan Daz for a little cup of Cookies-and-Cream ice cream before heading home became a ritual.
When she turned five, for some unexplained reason, her palate narrowed down drastically. The only vegetable she would eat was broccoli, stir-fried. No other vegetables would appeal to her.
From gentle and patient coaxing, to food camouflaging tactics, she held her ground. I had even resorted to threats and used “or else” once too often. And given the “don’t even think about it” cold stare that, though had led to her submissive obedience, only made dinner a punishment for her and a tension-filled drag for me.
Lunch with family and relatives would often be one that ended with a mixed note. When asked what she would like, she would pick stir-fried broccoli, fried tofu and steamed fish in light soya sauce. It would be the same threesome every time. Though they would accommodate her preference, they could not refrain from shaking their heads with disapproval on her limitations in her choice of food.
But really, was it a big deal that she was not eating leafy spinach, which she claimed leave an unpleasant after-taste on her tongue, or bland cauliflower that she described as mutated broccoli? She was, after all, having a well-balanced diet of protein from tofu, fish and chicken; carbohydrates from rice and Japanese udon; good fats from her avocado smoothie; vitamins and fibre from broccoli, apple and starfruit; as well as calcium from milk, yogurt, and cheese. Though it was limited in variety, it was nonetheless complete across the food range.
Brussel sprouts is not on everyone’s food list. Sashimi could make one nauseous. If adults can have food preferences, why not kids?
Shouldn't meal time be a pleasure, not under pressure?
Finally, I decided to cook food that she would definitely not refuse and on top of that, other dishes that she has yet to get accustom to. No more coaxing. No more nudging. Definitely, no more "war" at the dinning table.
One fine day, she said, ” Mommy, what is that? Can I try that?”
You can imagine how glad I was. I was over the moon.
Slowly but surely, her palate expanded during her elementary school. She would come home and quizzed, “Guess what I ate today with my friends?” I would always be pleasantly surprised.
What have I learned as a mom?
Whilst I’m not able to censor every counterintuitive words or phrases that riddled into her life, be it from books or TV programs, I could certainly:
- not complain about any food, even when it is not as ideal as I would like it to be, because it is encouraging her to be negative about food and say “eeew” or “yuk” to the food that she doesn’t like or thinks that she wouldn’t like even without trying.
- not set any expectations so that I will not feel disappointed and upset when she is less than enthusiastic about her meal.
- not underestimate the power of peer influence, even at her young age, and allow her to eat with her friends without looking over her shoulder.
- not ask her “are you sure?” when she wants to try anything new, even when it seems quite bizarre, because I’m insinuating to her that she should not try the food.
- use subtle ways to entice her to eat her food and expand her taste palate without her feeling forced to do so.
- learn to let her set her own pace in food acceptance and allow her to surprise me with her food discoveries.
If you want more ways to encourage your child to eat the power punch greens, you can download this guide HOW TO GET YOUR CHILD TO EAT VEG WITH NO TRICK OR TREAT, FLUFF OR BLUFF.
A shorter version of this blog post has been posted on HUFFINGTON POST.
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Credit: Featured image from pexels.com
She loves food - all food especially spicy authentic Asian dishes. She sometimes wonders if she eats to live or lives to eat.
As much as she is adventurous with food, she also likes to cook. A proponent for home cooking for better health, she believes that it's only when we start to cook that we become more aware of what goes into the food we eat and vigilant of our food portion sizes.
She's a relatively good home-chef and could make a mean Salt Baked Chicken. But she claims that her late mother-in-law was way much better and her only regret is, in her own words,"Darn…I wish I had written down her recipes."
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