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Chow milestones w your kids

My 10 year old son and I went to Rockport, MA and had lunch at Roy Moore's Lobster Company, something we've been doing for many years. We have always shared a lobster but, this summer, his appetite demands his own lobster. He not only got his own lobster, he cracked it and got the meat out himself. My little boy is growing up!

Earlier in the week, we stopped at a farm for corn. He walked around and came back with one gorgeous bok choy and a purple bell pepper, asking if we could buy them. Absolutely!

You try to cook good food and expose your kids to a variety of foods, hoping it will take root.

What milestones do you remember about your kids and food?

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  1. Both of my sons were hounds from Day One. I, too, experienced the "I want my own lobster" meal and reeled from sticker shock while relishing the thought that they were open to great food experiences for their lives. Sure PB&J is cheaper but knowing they want to eat soft shell crabs, artichokes and avocadoes at a young age brought me joy.

    My most memorable "Ah-Ha" moment involves a heretofore Meat and Potatoes DIL. Anything adventurous or unfamiliar moved around her plate and our dogs were her (under table) constant dining companion. She ate at McD's after dinner at our house on more than one occasion. Although an avid fisherwoman, she wouldn't eat fish....... that is until a trip to Puerta Vallarta. The joys of FRESH fish, grilled on the beach, woke her to tastes she'd never experienced and marked the beginning of a Chow journey that warms my heart every time I think about it. Last week, they were in Hawaii and she called to recount "Butterfish is the best fish I ever ate" and to tell me about a sashimi meal that she adored.

    I'm smiling as I write this, knowing that her journey from plain to adventurous eater is just beginning and has so many wonderful tastes in store for this special woman.

    Edit: this may be slightly off topic since you asked for milestones with kids ....... but since she's married to one of my kids, I gave myself permission.

    1. After enduring a very picky first child who is now 20 and still picky, I was shocked and overjoyed to find that I had an adventurous eater with my middle son. Sushi at age 3, raw oysters at age 4, no problem. Said child is now almost 17 and continues to expand his horizons. If it looks and smells good he will try it. Definitely prefers ethnic cuisines to the standard plain meat and potatoes diet that his older brother sticks with.

      1. My daughter will be five in a month. She has recently eaten more spicy foods (small amounts of really spicy), understands that she has to first eat something healthy in the morning--e.g., sliced banana & homemade yogurt or granola and milk--before moving on to something like rice or pasta with carrot or lentil soup. She knows the concept of junk food ("comida chatarra") and just made a move from slightly sweetened orange juice (in 1 liter UHT boxes) to fresh squeezed. Her snacks tend to be raisins and (my) bread. She likes sushi with unagi (but then, who doesn't?). I don't have soft drinks, processed or junk food, in the house. She got a bit of those in her nursery school--so isn't some hippy luddite's daughter. Another (switch off HERE if you want to avoid political incorrectness) is that she and I exchange snide remarks when we encounter mis-behaved, fat, and/or mis-behaved fat kids in the supermarket.

        1. Mom of 4 with a wide range of eating habits, all of which continue to change, even as I write this. Oldest is a restaurant owner and was a fantastic chowhound from birth, 2nd child had an issue with how food feels (like his father) and it took years to get over that aversion but today he works for his older sib. My younger kids are food players and I have found that when I keep food FUN they are more adventureous. Of course not everyone delights in our food play but during the elem school years my kitchen was very popular with the kids and their friends. I don't mind a mess as long as play includes clean up. So, I'm surviving the chowhound mis-adventures and encourage, encourage, encourage that my kids give everything a try before saying NO. Truth be told, that rule applies to me too :)

          Milestones include the first time my 2nd child ate broccoli. He had to drown it in ranch dressing but it went down his throat and we all cheered.

          Taking the kids to pick your own farms and food festivals opened their eyes and today they all love to garden.

          Being good guests at other people's homes was important to me. If someone serves you a meal, be gracious.

          Going food shopping with my kids and letting them pick a few "new" items encouraged them to try new foods.

          three of us, there is hope and you're on the right track!

          2 Replies
          1. re: HillJ

            You made me think of my dad, Hillj. He always played with food, juggled dinner plates (he only broke them twice in my memory!), and always accepted dares to throw small items of food over and through the blades of our whirring kitchen ceiling fan (I don't recommend cherry tomatoes when there are guests present wearing white angora sweaters).

            That said, his pet hates were children knocking over their drinks, and children who kept waiters waiting in restaurants with menu indecisiveness (the former was sometime me; the latter always was!). We knew when it was fine to play, and when we had to behave.

            And above all, his patent enjoyment of food taught us that food was to be savoured. I hope to pass that on to my kids one day. Maybe minus the plate juggling.

            1. re: Gooseberry

              Don't ever (wink) under estimate the power of food play, plate juggling included! Without fun & humor I would have aged beyond my years as a parent. Thanks for sharing your memory!

          2. My son is a very conservative eater, but lately there have been a few milestones. Significantly, they were when he was out on his own -- once when his math teacher took the math team out for a celebratory lunch at an Indian restaurant and another time when his English teacher took the class out for dim sum. On both occasions he ate food that was new to him -- and enjoyed himself! Peer pressure may have entered in to it, but that's okay with me. I'm just glad that he'll try new things, even if it's when I'm not around.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Glencora

              Our youngest turns 19 tomorrow (Out to Tidal Falls Lobster Pound.), but when he was 10 , we had just finished a Norwegian frukostbord (a breakfast smorgosbord w/ several styles of herring.) and he declared, unprompted, "I think I'm becoming a herring gourmet."

              1. re: Passadumkeg

                This made me laugh. A fine skill, indeed!

            2. My picky 13 year-old is finally starting to expand her horizons, albeit in a limited way. She tried lasagna a few months ago, telling herself that since she liked the ingredients, she should like the finished product. Ate a huge amount! At camp this summer, she made overcooked spaghetti palatable by putting sauce on it (she's usually a butter 'n ketchup gal). This led her to dipping bits of pasta in my (fabulous) meat sauce the other night. I continue to hold out hope for her!

              3 Replies
              1. re: bklynite

                My son, now 19 has always been a great eater, up for anything. At 2 he would yank the broccoli off the plates that the servers were removing from the table and had an unsavory love for that little triangle piece of fat on prime rib....I can still remember hearing it squish around in his mouth with his shiny lips in an upturned grin...eww. So I knew he would eat anything but had no idea how much he would come to love the whole dining experience.
                At 10 he had his first tasting menu meal, (started with fried soft shell crabs ended with Epoisses) he was a gonner. Dining is one of his passions now, it's in his blood and he relishes in sharing this with friends/girlfriends. On his one year anniversary with his last girlfriend he took her to one of his favorite restaurants, a place where the chef will do a blind menu for him....just keeps sending out plate after plate until he says stop. He spoke to the chef before hand and arranged to have her favorite food, eel of all things appear in a few of the dishes...so cute! She was floored, she had to quit after 6 courses but the expierence was something she will never forget so I guess him expressing his love through food was our milestone moment.

                1. re: bubbles4me

                  aw thats so cute! How old is your son now?

                  I've never heard of a blind menu. Does the chef ask first what the diner's food preferences are and is then free to create? At the end of the meal are the plates counted and then priced according to how much the diner ate? And if everyone required to eat the same dish (like a tasting menu)?

                  1. re: asiansensation007

                    He is 19 now away at college discovering how to navigate a new city of food.
                    I don't know how many places do the blind menu thing but the few places I have had it the chef does get an idea of diners likes and dislikes and just starts sending the plates out....checking in from time to time as to how much more we are ready for. They just keep a running tab in the kitchen so no plate counting and from what I remember everyone had the same dishes but some would give before the others...lots of fun.

              2. I don't have a child myself, but my BF has a 10 year old daughter who I've known since she was only 3. In our time together, I've always tried my best to introduce her to new foods... but it's tough, as the family she spends the most hours with are, hmm, shall we say Kraft Dinner and McDonald's types.

                Recently we took her to a Korean BBQ and she enjoyed absolutely everything, favouring the grilled calamari. For dessert she ordered the black sesame seed ice cream, and declared after three quick spoonfuls: "Tastes like burnt bagel!"

                About a year ago she started devouring mussels whenever I'd make them, even if they were a little spicy. Her spice tolerance is slowly but steadily going up.. and I asked her a couple weeks ago when she'd start eating Indian food so I could take her to one of my favourites restos, to which she responded, "Never!" ....But I don't give up that easily. This past weekend we got some Indian takeout and she devoured a paneer dosa.

                I am especially proud of the fact that a couple of her favourite snacks are edamame and cold thai spring rolls.

                1 Reply
                1. re: NovoCuisine

                  Last year when my 3 yr old son was in preschool they made "rock soup". Everyone brought in one vegetable and they made soup out of it. I was overjoyed to hear the teacher say "James had 3 bowls".

                  My everyday snack for my son is cut up veggies. He's even by passing the dip lately.

                  BUT I'd have to say my "A-HA" moment was last friday when we went out for pizza. I let him order off the childrens menu and the side choice he picked to go with his fried dough WASN'T french fries....it was Broccoli!! And he ate more of the broccoli than the fried dough.

                2. The one I most specifically remember is when my first daughter was still eating baby food (home made, not jarred), and couldn't have been much more than a year old. My wife and I were having veal chops (garlic, salt, pepper, oregano and olive oil rubbed and grilled) and couscous, and she was sitting in her high chair, having been fed already, and probably either picking at some Cheerios or just keeping us company, and we noticed her intently following our forks from plate to mouth, and licking here chops. So, we took some couscous, and spooned the drippings over it, and minced up some of the meat very finely (no teeth yet!).

                  Kaboom, a kiddie taste sensation! The look on her face was one of total revelation. I can only imagine the experience of tasting real seasoned food for the first time. Needless to say, baby food was done at that point!

                  From there, over then next few years it was on to tobiko and sashimi, Indian food, and linguine & clams or mussels.....etc, etc, etc. She's almost 9 now, and no looking back.

                  1. 1. When my oldest daughter was in kindergarten, the teacher asked what her favorite green food was. She replied "cilantro".
                    2. She also can eat more than her fair share of crab. (She's 10) Definitely can outdo me!
                    3. I've never had sushi, but she's convinced me that WE need to try it.
                    4. While dining out recently she ordered an entree and the waiter was shocked. He said that he has never seen a child order that dish, always an adult. He congratulated her on such an adventurous palate. That made her laugh and made me smile.
                    5. My youngest daughter loves prime rib. When she was about 3 (now 7), we ordered her prime rib (she called it steak) and everythime we asked what else she wanted with it (fries, baked, mashed?) she'd yell "I want steak!) Needless to say neither of my girls will be vegetarians.

                    1. The kids like to go to the Farmer's Market. They each get to pick out one item for everyone to try. Most surprising was the 4 year olds' fascination with fresh herbs and the 6 year old selecting brussel sprouts. They really like talking to the vendors, finding out how things are grown and sampling or smelling things. Another perk is they love to help cook what they selected & are grasping the concept that food costs money.

                      1. Not too many "milestones". All three of my kids (6, 4, 2 give or take a few months) are pretty good eaters. My wife and I cook whatever we want and they have to eat it.

                        But it's always interesting to take them to their well-child visits when the doctor asks what kinds of foods they like (standard on our clinic's questionnaire). My oldest's "favorite food" is whatever he ate the evening before usually. At his three-year checkup, he said "crab legs and lobster" (it was the day after some sort of special occasion where we had a clam bake). The pediatrician looked at me and I just shrugged and said, "Huuuuge grocery bills." Good thing we didn't have foie gras or caviar. I might have gotten some sort of reprimand.

                        1. Y'know, I can't say I really dwell on milestones very much, though I have had these sorts of thoughts on more than one occasion with my kids when the moment hit me in just the right way. Their first time apple picking (around 3 years old) was always a big one, having them get on my shoulders to reach for the apples that would normally be out of reach, and then eating one on the spot- it is still a much looked-forward-to family outing, but nothing beats the first time. Each boy would emphatically declare that they had picked the best apple on the tree, and that it was the best one they'd ever had. I can't say that they were too far off, either.

                          Another one was making their first pasta, taking turns with the machine, helping out with the sauce and eating it all for dinner. That sort of activity is always worth the eventual mess it creates.

                          1. My kids are both pretty adventurous eaters. My son, who is 4 1/2, loves tofu. He would eat it every day if I let him. He also loves to eat chicken skin -- he pulls it off the meat and puts the whole fatty thing in his mouth and chews with a big grin on his face. He even asks for the skin off our chicken.

                            My daughter is 2 1/2 and recently discovered sushi. She loves spicy yellowtail rolls and seared ahi sushi. She even asks for the pickled ginger.

                            We eat a lot of Asian fare in our house (Indian ethnicity but parents grew up in Singapore and Burma respectively). Both kids love to eat spicy noodles (with chopsticks, no less!), fried turmeric and garlic rubbed whole fish, and all sorts of spicy curries and other dishes. Both have a high tolerance for heat in their food. They also both love brocolli, and fight over the last piece. They both enjoy seafood, and love crab and lobster, especially when I let them pick it out of the shell.

                            I'm lucky that they are both open to trying new foods and aren't squeamish. When we were in Malaysia a couple months ago, we were at a seafood restaurant with various fish tanks. My son spotted a tank with eels and wanted to eat them. We talked him out of it as it was on our way out the door but he probably would have really enjoyed them. He did enjoy his fried head on prawns though!

                            1. As adventuresome as both of my children are in their eating, I remember some 10 years ago when my son was around 12 and I had taken him to NYC for some museums, and touristy things. Also wanted to introduce him to some good food, and we went to Union Sq. Cafe, Four Seasons, 21 club. I remember that at each place, he ordered a NY strip. At first I tried to talk him into branching out, but then decided to make the most of it, as I like steak as well. From them on, our spring break trips to big cities, like Chicago, Philly, Boston, D.C., NY again, etc. involved going to a different steakhoues each night three nights running.

                              As a result, we have eaten in every major independent steakhouse in the eastern US and several times at some of the chains. He also developed a taste for the same apps so when we now have a father/son bonding weekend trip, we end up at one (or two) steakhouses and get the crabcakes and smoked salmon, splitting, a couple of NY strips medium rare and some sides. I even let him pick the wine now and he does a great job.

                              For his 21st birthday, we went to a Capitol Grille and he was treated like a king...(I had tipped them off) with the sommelier bringing over the reserve wine list, etc. Afterwards, they delivered a bottle of wine and a gift basket to him at our hotel. He had arrived and I was proud!!!