Raising A Chowhound
My husband and I both enjoy new dining experiences, new products brought to market, taking in food festivals, food fairs and trade shows. In the last few years our love of ethnic food has expanded thanks in part to recommendations from serious Chowhounds!
The thing is, our teenager hasn't joined the culinary adventure. And altho its certainly a choice to be a plain eater we can't help but be sad for virgin palates.
So, what do you do to raise a chowhound? Thanks!
I'm guessing that this post more appropriately belongs on the General Board. So, the admins may end up moving it. That said...
I think the kinds of foods kids are exposed to at home are a good start towards their becoming a chowhound. If you cook a variety of cuisines, they will at least be exposed to the tastes of different herbs and spices.
This is by no means a foolproof method, of course. While there are teenage chowhounds, and even some who are younger, I think the majority of teens have tastes geared mostly toward pizza, burgers, fries, etc.
But don't give up. I'm betting that, eventually, your chowhoundiness will seep through. And one day, your kids will surprise you and turn into younger versions of your chowhound selves.
Do it the way my mother-in-law got her son (my future spouse) to learn to cook: no prepared snacks in the house. If he wanted a snack he had to figure out how to make it. She showed him where the cookbooks were and reminded him that he knew how to read.
And she also got on his case if he left the kitchen a wreck, so he is fairly tidy when he cooks, too.
I got my kids cooking first by teaching them to make their very favorite foods (spaghetti sauce in one case, stir-fries in the other) and secondly, by asking them for my birthday to each buy me a cookbook that was full of food they thought they wanted to eat. And then to pick out and cook one recipe with me. We cooked some pretty amazing things that I never would have chosen (including one very complex pasta dish that must have dirtied every single dish in the kitchen), but we had a great time, and it started off some very good cooking. (For the next birthday, they presented me with a menu with a couple of options, and did all the cooking for the day. No one told them cheescake was too complicated for teenage boys, so that's one of the things they made(which is what kicked off my search for ways to use up left-over creme fraiche, see earlier thread.))
Were you chowhounds during the child's early years? I think that is when food preferences are most subject to environmental influence.
My wife and I are now expecting our first child, and we are deliberately trying to solidify our list of favorite restaurants that are moderately priced, family-friendly, and gastronomically adventurous. We have identified some local Indian, Ethiopian, Turkish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Mexican, and Middle Eastern restaurants as those which we want to be among the first experienced by our child. I remember being exposed to a variety of international foods by my parents and it has created a sense of adventure that has served me well for 40 years.
Misguided relatives may buy the kid an occasional happy meal, but we hope to set another course. Perhaps we are naive, but I am hoping this strategy, combined with a lot of good home cooking, will establish good habits for life.
I posted about this on the "Have Your Tastebuds Changed?" topic. I ate a ton of tomatoes when pregnant w/ my daughter and she LOVES tomatoes (one of those foods many young kids don't like). I was less obsessed w/ tomatoes when pregnant w/ my son (and I was also pregnant during a more "wintery" time of year w/ him) and he's not as fond of tomatoes. I also ate a lot of ice cream and both kids like ice cream, but I've never met a kid who *doesn't* like ice cream!
Funny you should mention tomatoes... I am in my 7th month and also eat a ton of tomatoes... Always liked tomatoes but never ate them on sandwiches, burgers, etc. (Too mushy).
Now I eat them on and with everything... same with avocados and watermelon... always was a fan but since pregnant, always have to have them around and with most meals...
As I am having some trouble with heartburn, I had to find alternatives to certain vitamin rich fruits and veggies. Good thing the pregnancy was/is during the spring and summer months, lots of options.
Additionally, my hubby is a meat and potatoes type of guy so we have been bbq-ing constantly... The only thing I worry about with that is that since I have to eat my meat cooked more than I like (safety reasons), my son will want his meat cooked past medium rare, the horror! LOL
As for raising chowhounds or bearing them, I have tried to vary my meals but as is common during pregnancy, you must eat what you can eat and as things go, I was pretty lucky! We do plan on introducing lots of different foods as soon as it is appropriate... We were both raised in the school of "if they are hungry, they will eat what you serve" though both sets of parents cooked well and diversely... yet in keeping with the proper food group parameters: meat, potato, veggie/salad, etc. with every meal.
It seems like I get it at anytime depending on what I eat (the heartburn). Weren't you hungry after 4pm? I could not do it, just learned to leave the tums by the bed...
I have to eat something before bed or I wake up STARVING! With all the waking up all night as it is, do not need hunger making me lose sleep too! :-)
I got my start at home with Italian grandparents. As far as I am aware, I was the only kid in my group who ate artichokes, mussels, octopus, rabbit, etc. Gramma made stuff at home for special occasions and I enjoyed it with the rest of my family. Unfortunately, I did not learn to cook it! This caused problems when I was grown, and my kids wouldn't try a darn thing in restaurants since they didn't get it at home.
They are just now, as adults, getting adventurous-- a little.
Yep, the thing is-- I think -- expose them young
I'm not a children type person, but I would think that "influencing" a child's sense of taste and appreciation of different foods would start at the infant or childhood stage.
Too often I see families dragging their children into the nearest fast-food place. Poor kids. I feel sad for them. All they will ever know is pizza, burgers, fried everything, and soda. (see recent obesity threads on one of the boards here).
I would think that exposing your child to the foods of different cultures, and especially to HEALTHY foods, at an early age, would be critical. I'm not saying force your child to eat only broccoli and take bean sprouts in their school lunchbox, but at least offer them options.
Likewise, school lunch programs (while making some advances and depending on your location) quite often feature the worst crap and un-healthy choices.
I remember in elementary school, a friend of mine's mom was a macro-biotic freak, and barely let him eat ANYTHING except yogurt and bean sprouts and stuff. No wonder, he would PIG OUT at school, begging for other peoples snacks, desserts, and "normal" food, and I once went to his house to play and he had a STASH of junk food in the attic.
I think if you expose a growing child to the options, they at least will have a foundation. Sure, everyone likes pizza once in a while, or some fried chicken fingers, but if your kids know there is a world of different and INTERESTING foods out there, they will be much better off.
You could also make food FUN.... teach your kids to share with their peers, make them aware that, "hey, look, today I brought this cool (insert ethnic cuisine) food, oh look, you're eating a hamburger again.....".