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Chow Kids. Are you raising one?

Are most of the kids of Chowhounds following in the footsteps of their parents? What were the first signs that your kid was a Chowhound in the making?

My daughter would gobble up vast quantities of any expensive goat cheese from the time she was a little tot. She also loved vinegars and other odd foods that most of her preschool peers wouldn't touch. She shocked our east coast relatives when they asked her where she wanted to go out to dinner when she was young, maybe 6 or 7, and she replied "Thai." I think they were expecting McDonalds or something similar. By 11, her favorite restaurant treat was to go out for sushi. She adores pesto and other flavors that some kids have to grow into.

Hope she gets a good job when she grows up, to pay for her expensive taste in foods!

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  1. I'm nineteen and don't have any children yet, but my parents definitely raised a chow kid in me. My father is Sicilian and Calabrese and my Mum is German, Cherokee, and English; they both work in the food industry and have they're entire lives. I think I was the only kid in my elementary school who helped prepare the seven fishes for Christmas. Now that I'm an adult (kinda) and Vegan, I try to pass on my love of food and animals to my 3 little sisters.

    5 Replies
    1. re: marietinn

      I hope so. I tried. I made baby food when it necessary and started feeding her regular food asap. Always fresh veggies, stuff from scratch, whole grains, things in their most natural state. She was eating broiled salmon with dill and asparagus at 18 months and Thai food, Greek food and sushi at about 3. She likes the ramen and nuggets and Blue Box but could definitely do without, and many things she eats things her friends think are 'weird'. I think this is a good thing.

      As an infant, I swore she would never set her little foot in a McD's. HAHAHAHAHAHAAAA!! But I have kept it down to 4-5 times a year.

      1. re: Whosyerkitty

        Yay! My kid sounds a lot like your kid. We're so used to eating whole grains and wheat bread, that I forgot about that entirely. My daughter used to refuse a grilled cheese made on anything resembling white bread.

        She called McD's "the golden bunny ears" until after her 3rd birthday. Probably would never have gone in one, except for the kid birthday parties held there and when we lived in Alaska people used to meet there during the winter so the kids could run around in the playland.

        Since we're vegetarians, she's well accustomed to being the weird kid in the lunchroom. She also gave up entirely on eating school lunches by 3rd grade. It's good to be weird!

        1. re: laurachow

          My son is in 2nd grade and the only time he likes to buy lunch at school is Friday (pizza day.)

        2. re: Whosyerkitty

          That's funny about McDonald's - I pretty much said the same thing and yet somehow my son became a fan of the golden arches. Although I think it's more about the toy in the kid's meal than the food. But same as you - he doens't get there more than 4-5 times a year and doesn't ask to go more often than that, so I'm OK with it.

          1. re: Whosyerkitty

            Yeah, we do a couple of times a year, usually when driving long-distance, but at this point the kids (teens) don't really like it! Although I do like it, twice a year.

        3. Absolutely! My chowhound is the kid who the servers perk up to see. He tried to swap lunch with the Japanese-American classmate who always brought sushi & seaweed. Loves goat cheese, shellfish, pho, brussels sprouts, and... gosh, it's hard to know what else is notable since he's what I'm used to. Loves trying to improve his chopstick skills, watching the sushi chef, open kitchens, pizza machines, commercial espresso machines, live lobsters in the tank... Also: baking, visiting the farmers market, ethnic groceries, gardening, fruit picking, peeling, chopping, stirring, mixing... The more you involve children in the pleasurable work of getting food to the table, the more they enjoy it.

          1. My daughter went to bed a bit ago as I sang to her (badly) along with opera (Schwarzkopf's Die Zauberflote). We had just shared an artichoke and some simmered chicken livers - which she loves. Today she also had some French carrot soup, roasted chicken & Jasmine rice, and some blackberries, banana, honey, and homemade yogurt. Dana Zsofia is 5 1/2 and laughed at my opera singing, had pate on bread and raisins this afternoon for a snack. Now I'm listening to Prokofiev (The voice of enigma) and in spite of it's (the music) excessive heaviness, I appreciate that my daughter eats well!

            Whoops, just went to "Sadness" in "Principles of Lust". Much brighter!! Hahaha!! Almost like his work with Eisenstien and the charge of the Teutonic knights across the ice in "Alexandre Neyvsky".

            12 Replies
            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

              Savor every moment of it, Sam. Every age is incredible, but 6 or so is somehow special. Food-wise, there's no such thing as "icky." Otherwise, there's nothing like an open mind.

              Teach her to eat, think, and listen (I go for relatively equal parts of classical, Blue Note jazz, classic rock, and post-hardcore punk, but that's just the local blend). If she still thinks you're cool you when she's 16, you'll know you did it right.

              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                Awww - she definitely does eat well - and what an all-around education in food AND music she's getting! I look at my little chowpup (2 months old now - wow - it goes fast!) and think of all the fun we're going to have in the kitchen and in front of the stereo (mp3 player these days!)!! Can't wait to introduce him to hummus when he's ready for solid foods!! As for music, so far he's having his share of The Three Tenors, Coltrane, Peggy Lee, Van Halen...we've got over 90 years of music to expose him to! Glad we're starting early like you did!!

                1. re: Sra. Swanky

                  ab and SS, kids are so great. Makes me want to bubble and gush! Have to try to maintain some control. But yes, getting to share food, cooking, ideas, humor, music, fishing, ... all so rewarding. I'm working with her on drawing, am frustrated with her progress in English (although her Spanish will soon be better than mine in some ways) and other languages. She is smart enough to be developing a sense of irony and sarcasm! And gets a lot of music styles - jazz, blues, old timey, cowboy, bluegrass, opera, chamber, latino of all sorts, mariachi, 50s, and more. Got her an MP3 player - three to be exact! Two cheap-os that didn't work and a third that you can't search for yunes other than by endless clicking forward. Thought I could get her some semi-disposables because they would soon be broken or lost. Now have to download one or two albums at a time each week. Very eclectic what she likes.

                2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                  Sam, wanna fix her up with my little sous chef? He's 5 1/2 too. He's been able to read since he was 2 and has near perfect recall of all he reads or hears. Right now he's into anatomy, but also knows more astronomy and geography than I do (which isn't saying too much). He makes a mean biscotti. He loves shellfish and cruciferous veggies, but won't eat beef or condiments. He has liquid brown eyes and shaggy blond hair. He's been known (at like the age of 3) to run away from me while shopping to open a door for a lady in a wheelchair. And tomorrow I have to enroll him in kindergarten :(

                  1. re: silvergirl

                    Holy Cow! Sounds like fate will hook the two of them up some day! Lucky you! Lucky us! Dana Zsofia reads people - adults and kids - in a frightenly better-than-a-shrink way. On Friday she came home from school and I said (translating into English), "Look at you, you're filthy!" She looked me in the eye, paused, and retorted, "Of course I am, we play in the dirt. What, you don't want me to play in the dirt???" What could I say? Has uncanny evaluations of peoples' marriages.

                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      Lovely name. And she sounds like a lovely girl. It must be quite disconcerting to hear a babe commenting on the state of your marriage (assuming she does this within earshot of those whom she is observing). In any case, have fun and best of luck. Until we meet at Oxford orientation...

                  2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    How it saddens me to read this today, thinking of all the knowledge Sam will never get to share with his daughter, or us.

                    1. re: pikawicca

                      Oh no! Sam is no longer with us?? :o( His last post was pretty recent though...

                        1. re: alanbarnes

                          I will be sure to join his Facebook page. Thanks,alan. I never visit the SIte Talk board, so I totally missed this. :o( What a wonderful guy...his posts always made me smile. And pikawicca, that was very well said - he really was the ultimate hound.

                      1. re: pikawicca

                        Yeah, my heart twinges when I read an old thread where he had posted.

                    2. Mine from 4-15, then highschool. Now junk food. Hates everything else. It just depends. Actually I hope my son learns to cook what he likes. I don't necessarily like him to be a CHOW HOUND. As long as he likes what he cooks. And I hope he can cook on his own. My tastes are mine and his tastes should be his. I just hope he appreciates good food and takes the time to cook on his own.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: kchurchill5

                        I think a lot of people go through that phase in their teens. I liked a lot of different foods when I was really little and then when I reached high school I became a lot pickier. Now I like more food again.

                        1. re: queencru

                          I was similar, but liked quite a few foods. I guess having the fresh fish from the lake and garden I ate most foods. But highschool turns even the best eaters into picky ones. So true gueencru.

                          My son is 20 (still going through) the highschool years I think. No tomatoes, onions, peppers etc. That is everything I cook with. Hopefully soon he will learn.

                          I used to eat tomatoes right off the vine growing up and peas out of the pods. :)

                          1. re: queencru

                            The *only* thing I can recall that I got picky with was tomatoes. One summer, I'd eat them from anywhere. The next summer, only from my grandmother's garden. And the next summer, I claimed I disliked them (even as Mom reminded me I ate tomatoes the previous year). I only recently (within the last 10 years) have begun buying them again, but only the "on the vine" ones.

                            I don't have children, but I don't recall being overly picky growing up (we really weren't allowed - had to at least try things). I loved going out to NYC Chinatown restaurants with the family, and while we didn't probably eat "truly authentic", we were using chopsticks at a very early age and in our household, we had a "take all you want but eat all you take" rule. We ate everything on our plates. Our house was a "this is the meal I've cooked; this is all you're going to get" situation from Mom. No extra meals were made for someone who didn't like what Mom was serving (although she let us order pizza when Dad made liver one night...thankfully on a spring night so we could open the windows to air out the house <g>).

                            When I was a teenager, I continued to like trying new foods. Mom and Dad would take me to a seafood restaurant they liked and we'd all make sure we had different things so we could all taste from each other's plates.

                            When I moved out on my own, I wasn't a great cook, but I tried - making sure I got family favorite recipes from my Mom. But that was also the time I was into Hamburger Helper and easier casserole-type meals like that - not all the time, but interspersed with grilled/baked meals. So sometimes I'd go with what I'd now call "meh" food, and sometimes I'd experiment with new flavors.

                            So while I'm definitely not as adventurous as some of the folk here on CH, I do enjoy trying new foods/flavors, because I grew up doing so. Also a reason I love to cook so much - Dad would bring home ideas from his travels around the world, and we'd try them at home.

                            I'd like to believe that if I *had* had children, I would have acted the same way as my parents. Actually, I *know* I wouldn't have prepared a separate kid's meal, and the child(ren) would have eaten a lot of what I already cook now.

                        2. I didn't become "interested" in food till my 30's so I sure don't expect my son to be a little chowhound. That will for him to decide when he is older. He just eats what we eat. Which is wide range of food from broccoli (and most veggies), fruits, breads pastas rices..meats.eggs..blah blah blah .and McDonalds. I don't see the horror at eating at McDonalds. It's not his fault his daddy is not rich. He eats well..is active..healthy weight and all that. I will never deny my kids certain foods (expect artificial sweetners and soda..he's only 2). I don't believe in taboo foods(like candy or fast food)...moderation. He will be fine. Don't make him into a weirdo.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: rochfood

                            I ditto that, mine eats whatever good and bad but he's a good kid and likes good food so at some point I think he will want to learn. all in due time.

                            1. re: rochfood

                              Regarding your comment about his daddy not being rich, Mcdonald's ends up being a good bit more expensive (in food value) than making a healthier peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat, and some fruit. Not having a lot of money is not jusitifcation for eating at McDonald's. But like everything else, in moderation it doesn't do harm.

                            2. Mme Mouse (20) and Lima Bean (17) are both chowkids. They were raised with good, CHEAP, wholesome food.. a lot of it home made (I was a single mum, studying full time, with 3 jobs, so luckily, no money for take away), much of it home grown.

                              Mouse is an eater of fine victuals, rather than a cook, but Lima Bean is an excellent cook, so much so that I let him make a number of dishes for my wedding 4 years ago. He was 12 and did all the potato salads without supervision. He also makes all his own pasta, by hand. His latest offering, fettucini "tinted" with roasted capsicum was awesome.

                              And no, he doesn't want to be a chef, he wants to be an economist!!

                              I put it down to having had him moulding meatballs in bulk for my catering business..... a 3 y/o boy's hands are JUST the right shape for a cocktail meatball!!

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: purple goddess

                                I'll hie him, I need a meatball maker, lol

                                1. re: purple goddess

                                  How adorable! And WHY did I not take advantage of that when my son was 3?

                                2. I'm 15, so I guess i'm a chow kid. but my parents aren't chowhounds, but im working on that haha

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: kirinraj

                                    Good for you, welcome. Never be afraid to ask anything, how simple or complex the question may be, trust me!! That is how we learn. Hopefully you will not be intimadated and just realize that many have opinions many much more intense than others but just take in what you learn a continue to abosrb and grow from chow, Enjoy the ideas and suggestions and learn new techniques and ideas from them.

                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                        Thanks! i started cooking out of anthropological interest, but then realized that good food tastes really good. i've spent like the last 1 1/2 yrs finding the best places in my area for ethnic foods and ingredients. this site has helped a lot

                                  2. I've got a little chowbun in the oven right now, and we fully plan to make sure our kid is exposed to everything we eat. I was raised that way, and DH was not - it's been my goal in life to turn him into a chowhound over the last 14 years, and by gosh, it worked!

                                    SIL (DH's sister) is determined to turn her kid into an anti-chowhound. She would read jars of babyfood and if the ingredients included onions or garlic or anything "exotic" like that, she deemed it off limits to the kiddo. 3 years later and he's a completely picky eater. Gee, wonder why?

                                    12 Replies
                                    1. re: irishnyc

                                      Hey IrishNYC, my dh could easily have turned into a meat-n-potatoes guy without me getting him more & more into the chow, so I hear ya!

                                      Since you're pg and already receiving boatlaods of unsolicited advice, I'll tell you what I heard about raising chowish children: make sure to eat a nice broad variety of good food while you're breastfeeding so you'll give your baby a good palate... some Italians believe getting a sweetened, milky version of all sorts of flavors leads to the child liking a wide range of flavors when theyre big enough for solid food. Scientific evidence? None whatsoever! :-D But I *liked* that idea, so that's what I did. The kid should have a good wine palate as well, if this theory holds up.

                                      And here's a nice column from _Gourmet_ about eating & drinking while pg, in case the Pregnancy Police are in your face: http://www.gourmet.com/foodpolitics/2...

                                      Good luck and enjoy!

                                      1. re: Mawrter

                                        Thanks for the tips, Mawrter and Swanky! I've cut out very little from my diet now, and don't plan to avoid much of anything after either. I fully subscribe to the philosophy of exposing kids from a young age to as many flavors as possible, even if just through breast milk. Once we move past the basic solids, the kiddo will get a kid-mushed version of whatever we're having.

                                        1. re: Mawrter

                                          Yep, it works.

                                          The Weasel is 21 months now and likes his eggs softly scrambled with truffle cheese.

                                        2. re: irishnyc

                                          Hey, irish -- congratulations on your little chowbun! I'm a new mom too - my chowpup just turned 2 months old, and I've got the same mission for him! My sis tends to do the same thing with her little guy - now at 11, he's only into baked ziti & ravioli - a complete carb (mainly pasta!) freak with no other exposure to anything else!! (I'm dying to change that one day when we take him out with us sans his parents!!)

                                          That's a good article Mawrter posted. Here's another website for when the little tot is here and is ready for solid food:

                                          Here are more good threads on this topic - can't wait to use them myself!

                                          Hope you're having a wonderful pregnancy. It's a wonderful ride - enjoy every minute. :o) Best of luck!!

                                          1. re: Sra. Swanky

                                            Okay. MORE unsolicited advice, and i know you're sick of it!
                                            Cereal, veggies, fruit. Not fruit, then veggies. Too sweet too soon is not good. Watch the greens though (gas). Start out with carrots or sweet potatoes, boil or steam them, or even microwave, then blend them in a blender (you don't need a so called 'baby food grinder/maker) or even mash them with a potato masher with the cooking water to baby food consistency. Put in ice cube trays to freeze and then pop them out and let them thaw to room temp or microwave again. Try to introduce one food a week, in case of allergy.

                                            Commercial baby food is gross. I think I bought a few jars at most. One was chicken that scared me when I opened it, so I gave it to the cat. The cat wouldn't eat it. Cats not eating chicken? What's that tell you?

                                              1. re: Whosyerkitty

                                                I used to have a wonderfu little glass dish with a roughened area that i could rub fruits and veggies on, and it would reduce them to a mush for baby. Really a good little tool, easy to clean.

                                            1. re: irishnyc

                                              I noticed this thread had some recent action, so I thought I'd update...

                                              My chowbun is now a 20 month old little girl. She loves spice, spicy spice. She regularly eats indian food, spicy mexican, we had cajun for dinner tonight. She loves it all. Right now she's on a veggie strike, but that just means she eats more exotic fruits. Mango is her favorite these days.

                                              1. re: irishnyc

                                                That's impressive! My 10 yr old loves spicy food too, but it took me a loooong time to work him up to it. It was a labor of love. :)

                                                1. re: irishnyc

                                                  Awesome chowpup you have! I've been trying so hard to introduce my little guy to all kinds of food - Indian, Mexican, Greek - so far, epic fail. I'll keep trying though! But you're giving me hope for Baby #2! Thanks!

                                                  1. re: irishnyc

                                                    mine was like this, up until about 6 months ago. they don't have the sensitivity to hot foods yet. she still likes indian but is more sensitive to the heat, we order pad thai at barely spicy levels now, etc.

                                                    1. re: irishnyc

                                                      Aw, very cute, reading this update! Thank you for piping up. Sounds like you are having a blast with your little one! :)

                                                  2. While I don't have any kids of my own, you comment about when your daughter wanted Thai when she ws young reminded me of myself when I was around that age. My mom was of the "at least try it once" before turning a nose to it. If I didn't like it she would not push. So, I was pretty much eating all sorts of things my young friends would not touch. Also had grandparents on my fathers side that were of the "anywhere you want to eat" for my birthday. All the other kids were heading to McD's. Me? "Can we go to that French country place?" (At the time one of the nicest/most expensive places in out city) I think my poor parents swallowed hard at the thought of what it would cost. Grandpa didn't even blink. I still remember that meal...LOL

                                                    1. Yes, if his love of tripe and fish eyeballs are any indicator. My son is almost 4, and just loves eating. He adores restaurants, hassles us endlessly to take him out for sushi, and thinks the multiple delicacies to be had when we go for dim sum are the height of a good time. He was a great eater as a baby (we have a very funny video of him gobbling down broccoli rabe when he was 10 months old). He went thru a difficult stage when he was about 20-26 months old, but we persisted in not giving him "kids food" (out motto: eat what you want from what we put on the table, no special meals though no pressure to eat everything either) and then he phased out of it. Like the OP's child, he loves things with new or strong flavors (though he still doesn't like spicy).

                                                      If I had to characterize him, I'd say he likes culinary adventure. Unlike many kids his age, he loves trying new things, and gets bored if we don't vary what we serve. It is a pleasure to go to other people's homes or to restaurants with him, because he literally sits there and gobbles the food up. We went to a friends house this weekend, and she served squash soup, and he just kept saying "Mmm, this is soooo good."

                                                      The reason, I think, is that my husband grew up pretty poor in Mexico, so there were no such things like special foods for kids. You eat what the adults eat from about 5 months, just cut up smaller. We did the same with him.

                                                      The one food he absolutely hates is peanut butter. We have a joke now where we tell him that if he doesn't behave we are going to make him have some peanut butter.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: Cachetes

                                                        Isn't dim sum just MADE for little kids? It's delicious, it's small, much of it comes in little packages, it comes on a special cart in a special place, and it's CUTE! What's not to love?

                                                        1. re: Mawrter

                                                          I couldn't agree with you more!

                                                      2. We raised our son not just to eat but to cook. Following my example (I did, and still do, most of the cooking at home) he was whipping up Thanksgiving dinner for 16 people at age 19, in a college apartment with three roommates. Now 21 and still in school, he has a better-equipped kitchen than most 30-somethings.

                                                        1. My answer is 'kind of' - my kids mostly ate what we made at home, they both like fish and sushi, and in general are happy to try almost anything. But, in the advent of the teen years, a lot of that good eating has kind of flown out the window. My 17 year old lives on hot pockets and mcdonalds when he's out of my sight, and my 15 year old lives mostly on fruit, yogurt and pizza. So I like to think that the foundation is there, and they'll come back to it at some point.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: jeanmarieok

                                                            i think the early years are the most important. when i became a latch key kid around 12 I used to walk to the store and buy all the junk food I could - frozen broccoli with cheese, hot dogs with cheese from the street vendor, bags of cheetos, because my mom never had them in the house. i grew out of that and as a 30 something woman I go to the farmer's market twice a week and rarely eat out in places that aren't ethnic. i also have green vegetables with every dinner.

                                                            1. re: fara

                                                              If, at 12, your idea of "junk food" was frozen broccoli with cheese, you were still light years of my 12 year old self.

                                                              1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                                lol, i only think of that way now. back then i just wanted cheez sauce, any way I could get it. i tried melting velveeta from a block in a microwave and it just didn't work. i also loved the corn and butter sauce. yum.

                                                          2. I love this topic.

                                                            Two kids, same type of background (lots of home cooking, mostly vegetarian, farmer's market, variety of restaurants, cook's walk trips to local ethnic enclaves to eat our way up and down the street, lots of food ethics talk and politics), two slightly different results to date.

                                                            D1, 15, is the picky one by family standards, but not when compared to her peers. She's a baker, happiest with very specific directions in the kitchen, unhappy with approximations.

                                                            D2, 12, is definitely a chowkid. She's the one who picks out what we're getting at the cheesemonger's, the one who at age 9 turned to me after having truffled potatoes to say it was the best thing she'd ever had in her life (and who then saw the chef and went up to him to tell him how much she enjoyed her meal). We just had a tasting from the caterer we'll be using for D2's bat mitzvah, and D2 was raving about the contrast of textures and flavors in different dishes and quizzing the caterer about ingredients. She's the cook, happy to experiment and not hung up on exactitude.

                                                            Their peer group frightens me. Their friends come over for dinner and say that they are amazed about how good vegetables can taste, or how something I've made for dinner that I regard as rather utilitarian is one of the best things they've ever had to eat. And then there's my niece and nephew, 10 and 7, who are so picky that they needed to be bribed to try the (four) different pies I'd made for T-day dessert. The angels wept.

                                                            6 Replies
                                                            1. re: Kochav

                                                              Their peer group frightens me. Their friends come over for dinner and say that they are amazed about how good vegetables can taste, or how something I've made for dinner that I regard as rather utilitarian is one of the best things they've ever had to eat
                                                              That's not THEIR peer group - that's YOUR peer group who's not offering (or able to cook or WANT to cook) them good vegetables or homemade meals!

                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                I share your feelings about the peers. Ugh.

                                                                I just keep ever-so-casually drowning my kid in the good stuff - not just good *food*, but good *food-related experiences*, and hope that he will continue to be the kid delightedly offering the neighborkids string beans from the garden and exclaiming about how good they are raw, and how fancy it is to have them in three colors.

                                                                1. re: Mawrter

                                                                  Case in point - We had the neighbors over for chicken sausage gumbo two nights ago. I knew my offspring would eat it if we were alone. I also knew that, with the neighbors' two boys over, it would never happen. See, they don't eat anything but hotdogs and frozen chicken nuggets. So we had to fix hotdogs for the boys. When our kid sees the hot dogs on the table (a huge treat for her), we lost any chance of her eating the gumbo. Well, it's just one meal but I don't have a 4-year-old whose doctor is recommeding regular cholesterol tests (The younger boy - seriously - is already at risk. Any wonder?).

                                                                  1. re: rockycat

                                                                    Oh my. Those kids would get really hungry here because I just plain ol' don't have that stuff regularly. I might have hotdogs here 5 times a year, and no nuggets ever.

                                                                    1. re: Mawrter

                                                                      I find that even the picky eaters eat at my house. I don't have to say anything, but they know I assume everyone will eat, and I put the plate in front of them, and they eat most of it. Not a big whoop, as we used to say.

                                                                      1. re: somervilleoldtimer

                                                                        yeah, i don't have dcs friends over yet but can't you just tell them you don't have hot dogs?

                                                            2. When my son was about 4 we watched Iron Chef Japan every week. He declared he wanted to be an Iron Chef when he grew up and would set about making such culinary creations as apple slices on American cheese slices topped with apple juice. (It's a wonder the dogs under the tables survived the ordeal).

                                                              Now I've got a 12 and 14 year old. Thankfully, they eat a much wider range of foods than I did when I was there age, but still nowhere near as much as I would like them to since I have to cook it. Some of their preferences are surprising (they love shellfish), some not (they hate most everything green). I think it might take something like college dorm food before they appreciate what they get now.

                                                              Greatest triumph: Getting them to eat eggplant without them knowing it.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: JohnE O

                                                                And what kid doesn't want to be Emeril? Bam! Bam! Bam! Butter! Garlic!

                                                              2. I think I've shared this before, but a while back my now-15-year-old daughter made a comment about craving "comfort food." When asked for specifics, she said "you know, something simple. Like macaroni and cheese. Or sashimi."

                                                                Both my kids will eat chicken feet at the dim sum place and tripe in their pho, but turn up their nose at a McDonald's burger (although they know the location of every In-n-Out within a significant radius). Chowpups for sure.

                                                                1. It sounds like a lot of parents are doing a really good job of exposing kids to different foods. At different ages, they get different...*ideas*...but keep on going, parents. They need exposure.

                                                                  I too have kids that are discerning, but adventurous eaters.

                                                                  Example one: Last week I talked to College Son and asked him if he wanted some chow. He asked "what?" and I gave him a list of things leftover (lentil wats and chicken hash, etc) and containerized for him, ending with a pigs' ear and ceci chili. It was at the last that he really perked up (nothing he'd had before) and wanted to eat it. And still wanted to see if I had any salt herring on hand that I'd like to pass on.

                                                                  Example two: My DD 16 has instituted a night when she has friends over for dinner. Not just any dinner, but any interesting ethnic thing I can come up with. It's been Filipino adobo, it's been tonkatsu, it's been sushi and Finnish fish stew. Next week DD wants a full-blown borscht (with rhubarb soup for dessert). The great thing is: her friends love it, and are learning how to enjoy different ethnic flavors.

                                                                  Great kids, frineds included. Hungry for flavors because they've been exposed to a lot of different flavors.

                                                                  Always feed kids well, and wisely and widely. Even my teen is pestering me for the date that the Farmers Market opens (sigh...tooo long.).

                                                                  Kudos to all of your kids!


                                                                  1. Everyone enjoying this thread, have you checked out the new column at Gorumet magazine dot com about food & kids? Apparently it's a subcategory of Food Politics? Anyway, here's a link:


                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Mawrter

                                                                      Well, I thought that by exposing the kids to everything, they would be adventurous. It worked for the first born. She loves Thai, Indian, Japanese, Vietnameses, Chinese (especially dim sum), vegetables, cheeses (squeals with delight over blue cheeses). She is always willing to try anything. Now that she's five, she will occasionally come up with some picky things but overall is so adventurous and loves to eat. The second one, the boy, is now almost 2. He will barely eat anything. Always been that way, was picky with babyfood. The thing about him that infuriates me is that he is inconsistent. One day scarfing down broccoli, the next time will scream and cry if its on his plate. He loves carbs and sweets. If he could live on pasta and breads, he would. If there is any meat or chicken in a pasta dish, he will pick around it or not eat it. He refuses most vegetables except corn and occasionally peas. I don't make him special meals (I'm not a short order cook!) and he will refuse to eat what I make, so he doesn't eat sometimes. I used to think that kids were picky because their parents didn't expose them and gave them "kid" foods only (chix nuggets, mac n cheese etc). Well, I guess it was a wake up call to me. Such a bummer. I'm hoping that he will eventually come around, who knows.

                                                                      1. re: trishaluna

                                                                        He'll come around. Don't push (not in the "twos"), but keep offering. If he gets his necessary calories and nutrients over the course of a week or two, you can absolve yourself of any maternal guilt. I had one of those kids, too. They grew up to love all sorts of things. Keep at it. You're doing well.


                                                                    2. I am only nineteen, and don't have any children yet, but my parents come from a varied background (I am English, Irish, Swedish, Norwegian, Polish, German, Canadian, and Czech), so I grew up eating relatively traditional foods. Living in a very Irish/German community meant there was little "foreign" (to me, at the time, eating traditional corned beef, boiled potatoes, sausages, etc, were not foreign at all...) influence. I did eat a lot of vegetables and fruits, and very little fast food. I don't believe I drank pop/soda until I was 10 or so years old. It just wasn't allowed. But when I was around 12 or so, my parents were introduced to traditional Indian food by one of my mom's co-workers. Ever since then, we eat everything and anything. I enjoy sushi, Indian, Japanese, European, traditional Italian, Spanish, Mexican, African, etc.etc. We grew up eating fish, and all sorts of traditional sausages and pastas. I prefer gourmet to fast food:) My dad and I are total foodies, and regularly eat out. My dad constantly teases me about how much he spends on me when I am home from school:)

                                                                      1. Five Chowhoundumkegs!
                                                                        No.1 Son: 29, lives in S. Korea cooks and chows. Worked at Thai restaurant in college because he hated dorm food. Cooks what he misses from US. Just made Passadumkeggrandson!
                                                                        No. 2 Son: 25, went to culinary school (cooked birthday dinner for Martha Stewart when he was 16) , won Iron Man competition for scholarship. Ran kitchen in Las Vegas, got Spanish & ESL degree in Costa Rica and now teaches in Phuket, Thailand. Sends papa chow porn photos.
                                                                        No. 3 Son: 24, vegetarian, but tolerant of meatheads. Loves to bake bread, soups and other good foods. About to move to DC to look for work.
                                                                        No. 4 Son: 19, learning to cook, 1st apt in college. When 10, said, "I'm becoming a connoisseur of herring." Won't go to chain restaurants. Wants to learn to cook from me when home.
                                                                        No. 1 and only Daughte:. 21, La Reina Del Mundo, adopted in Bolivia, will out eat her bros. when it comes to chicken and rice. The only one who phones home and says, "Poppy, how do you cook....?" Lives in Austin and loves Q and Mexican. Works as a hostess at a Mexican restaurant while going to school.
                                                                        The whole gang will be chanting SALTENAS, SALTENAS, SALTENAS, as I drive over the 59th Street Bridge, going into Queens to our favorite Bolivian restaurant.
                                                                        Cherish and feed 'em good while ya got "em. They grow up fast and are gone! Only one hound left cook for; she married me; Mammadumkeg. Chowcito.
                                                                        Charlie Chan Keg

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                          A son that won the Iron Man scholarship in cooking school! Well, I know this thread isn't a competition but if if it were, you SO won it!

                                                                        2. My 6-year-old got her own 6-inch chef's knife for the holidays. I supervise her VERY closely when she uses it but she's really getting the hang of it. She's getting her own sushi kit for her upcoming birthday and I suspect it will be her favorite gift. I'm a little worried about trying her first efforts but,hey, beats the hell out of her getting a *$&@^! Barbie doll.

                                                                          I can't get her to eat hamburgers or tomato sauce on pasta because pesto is the only acceptable option. Sushi is always the restaurant meal of choice, followed by authentic (not Chinese-American) Chinese food. On the other hand, we're going through some fairly normal "Ew, I won't eat that" routines, including many foods she ate happily as a toddler. Ultimately, everyone's tastes evolve. I hope that eventually her palate will open up again to trying new things and I suspect that, due to her early exposure to so many tastes, it will. Hey, it took untilmy early 20's until I would try new foods.

                                                                          1. Well I'd like to think so but in reality, I'm developing sympathy for Ronald Reagan's position on ketchup as a vegetable serving.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: julesrules

                                                                              " Don't let your babies grow up to be Chowboys!"

                                                                              This is the title of a heartbreaking ballad about a 15 year old kid whose parents indulged him in serious chow at home, in restos at home and abroad. All is happy and uplifting in the beginning until the kid becomes a 6'6", 275 lb. athlete requiring 8000-10000 calories a day of massive amounts of Chowish protein, no to mention organic fruit and greens.

                                                                              The sad final verse sees the broke, skinny parents panhandling on street corners asking passersby if they can spare a couple hundred bucks for sushi grade tuna and well aged organic wagyu.

                                                                              1. re: garlicandwingnut

                                                                                I thought of this post last night when we went to the new local BBQ. Cheap, independent, and SO good. We put away a frightening amount of food: ribs, dirty corn, baked beans, house-smoked bacon, collards, sweet potatoes... It was packed full of families, especially families with great big teenaged boys. Now to me, those are some successfully raised chowpups.

                                                                            2. Well, my mother-in-law didn't and doesn't cook, my wife was very picky about food when I met here. My stepson who's 17 now (was nine when I met his mother) has been set in that little minded way of thinking about food.

                                                                              It really is frustrating, since I'll try anything (except balut, eggs with legs, can't go there), that's all I ask of them. My wife (and Steven), eat many things today that they would not have tried prior to meeting me.

                                                                              We do have two Chow cats, Jack and Milo.

                                                                              I use to joke with my wife about Jack being my sous chef... whenever I was in the kitchen prepping or cooking a meal, he was right there. Today we have two cats that will try anything you put down in font of them.

                                                                              I've read up on foods that are harmful to cats and do not give them anything that could prove harmful.

                                                                              Chow kids, Chow cats, same difference!

                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Demented

                                                                                Sounds like my step daughter. She's now 19, and despite years of me (and her father) trying to encourage new things, it's just not happening. She will eat no veggies and subsists mostly on sugary cereals and pizza (with ranch). Unfortunately, she's very overweight and unwilling to change her eating habits.

                                                                                I'm trying to raise my 21 month old son to be a chowpup, but too early to tell thus far. Tonight he wolfed down brown rice and barley, some salmon, and collard greens. But tomorrow he may only eat yogurt and strawberries and crackers . Ah, the joys of toddlerhood.

                                                                                1. re: Demented

                                                                                  I have a chow rabbit.
                                                                                  The first day we got him, I just happened to be cooking with fennel and endive, and he was so adorable and fluffy, I gave him some. He ate that faster than I've ever seen. Guess which rabbit won't bother to eat carrots now.

                                                                                2. We have four chow kids and they are both knowledgable about food and cooking and proud of that fact. We have always made food fun. We have theme nights (country specifac nights (scared the heck out of them when we showed up in makeup and dreads for our Jamaican night!), food specifac nights, medieval feasts, raclette nights with odd food and spices and our annual "crazy food nights"). Our crazy food nights have included everything odd (for Western Canada palates that is) from camel and jellyfish to sheep testicles, duck tongues, pig tails and snouts you name it. When we travel (which we do a lot) we look for contenders for these nights. Their friends lobby to be invited to these events (and have for years!).

                                                                                  We have not been to a fast food place in years (although sub shops, pita places etc are our fast food) and my kids have no interest in them. They have been with other people (friends etc) and tend to order a salad or the like. They do this because (we think) we have taught them about food. These kids know food. They can detect processed food from 20 feet away.

                                                                                  We have found that by making food interesting and by being consistent in providing fresh non processed food, it just becomes the norm. Our 16 year old is interested in our upcoming trip to Mexico as much for the real Mexican food as for the pools and scantily clad young men....or so she says.

                                                                                  The trick is - please note this moms and dads to be - start early and be consistant and persistant. Do NOT allow the kids to dictate what they will eat...they need to know early that they know nothing. They will have enough good experiences over time to get the point across that they need to eat a few bad things to find a few good ones. Don't order off the kids menu EVER!!!! Instead order small portions of adult meals or share with them. NEVER cook alternate meals for kids. I know it sounds like we are strict, but we are not as a rule. This is a biggie for us.

                                                                                  We always have multiple salt varieties, balsamic vinegars, oils etc at the table. We let the kids experiment with flavors. A couple love to help cook, the others prefer to have it made for them. They never order from a kids menu, understand when to send food back (with manners of course). We have shocked more than one server with an underdone steak identified by a 12 year old before being cut open. Our kids will try, often only once, any new food. Along with out crazy food nights we have a VERY ornate.....spit bucket. Try it and spit it out you want, but try it is the rule.

                                                                                  So, after this long unfocused post (does anyone else hate this tiny typing window we have to use on Chowhound), my point is this: make it fun and make it NORMAL to eat right. You know you have done a good job when your kid asks if her presentation for her grade 5 class can be how to prepare a proper muskox carpaccio with truffle oil and crostinis....or your 10 year old asking to order raw oysters as an appetizer. Our kids favourite foods (at present) include, carpaccios, duck confit, frog legs and unagi. That tells you something too...okay, proud dad, over and out.

                                                                                  9 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: foodiesnorth

                                                                                    Also a proud Dad, but truffle oil really does not pair well with musk ox carpaccio.

                                                                                    1. re: foodiesnorth

                                                                                      I really agree with a lot of what you are saying (except the pig's snouts - sorry, I just can't do that one ever again!). And amen about the kids' menus! I learned my lesson when we were at a steakhouse last year. My husband ordered a burger, and we ordered one for my toddler off of hte kids' menu. My husband's was juicy, flavorful, and delicious. My son's was a hockey puck.

                                                                                      Now he orders off of the regular menu, and we just take the leftover with us.

                                                                                      1. re: Cachetes

                                                                                        Yep, I agree with a lot of it too - although I can't comment on the pairing of musk ox carpaccio with truffle oil since I've never partaken of musk ox carpaccio.

                                                                                        Our 8 yr old isn't quite THAT worldly in his eating - and there are a few things he just wil not eat - but for the most part we did a lot of the same things with him. Never ordered from the kids menu, very little fast food, exposure to lots of different kinds of food from a young age, exposure to lots of fresh, homemade food, etc. I think it really makes a difference.

                                                                                        1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                          We used to do the truffle oil with muskox all the time but have not for a while...we did for this presentation only to make it seem "fancier" for the non chow kids. Pathetic, I know. I think it does pair well though...we just got sick of it after a while!

                                                                                          As for the snouts and tails...it was hilarious. Each kid had a friend over. I described it as "a whole roasted pig - without the middle bits". I paid any kid who tried the snout $5 and a further $5 if they took a chunk of the nostril. Not how we usually do things, but we just roared when two kids took up the nostril challenge. The duck tongues went over really well. It is getting harder to challenge our kids, but it is never a problem with their guests. We do spend much more time and energy on the "normal" theme nights, but the crazy food nights remain the talk of the community.

                                                                                          One other thought: We take the position that there is only the rare food that you can't like. My eldest went years fighting us on fish insisting that she did not like "fish". We keep getting her to try differnt kinds made in differnt ways. She finally hit a restaurant (in Yellowknife NWT of all places) that served fish only . She loved the pan fired cod and since then craves the place. She discovered a type of fish and prep that she did like and has now found other fish she likes. The point of course is that most foods can be prepraed such that you actually like them. Kids need to understand that so that become adults that understrand it. For me it was beets...it took about 25 years and two wives before I found a preparation I love. It became a challenge for me to find that one recipe and I did.

                                                                                          1. re: foodiesnorth

                                                                                            There are a few things my son will not eat under any circumstances (except perhaps extreme levels - read starvation levels - of hunger.) The big one is peanut butter. No how no way, uh uh. He'll eat peanuts, but nothing with PB in it.
                                                                                            The second is almost all cheese. The only cheese he eats is mozz and only on pizza or fresh slices with tomato. Otherwise, cheese? A big, resounding NO! (Has been this way since he was big enough to eat solid food.) He also will not drink milk under any circumstances. Not chocolate milk, not strawberry milk - nothing. He drank plenty of it when he was on the bottle, but the second I took it away, that was the end of the milk. It's been almost 6 years and he still won't touch it. Why do I put up with this? Mostly because he is otherwise a very good eater. Eats almost all veggies, loves salad, fruit, eats yogurt, loves eggs, fish, shellfish, smoked fish, chicken, beef, pork, grains, olives, capers, etc. I decided that since he was otherwise eating just fine, I wasn't going to force him to eat the few things he refuses. Either he'll outgrow it or he won't. (I've had discussions with his doctor about this especially because of concerns about him not getting enough calcium and vitamon D - we have it covered.)

                                                                                            As for adults not liking certain foods - I was always a pretty adventurous eater and there were very few things I wouldn't eat as a kid - but there were a few. Namely brussels sprouts, beef liver and scallops. As an adult? Still can't eat 'em. And I've tried preparing brussles sprouts all kinds of ways - and they still taste just like brussels sprouts to me - in a word - nasty. Same for scallops. (I won't even touch beef liver.) I finally decided that life is too short to work so hard to try and like something that just doesn't agree with my palate. I like plenty of other foods. It's not necessary to like them all. And if it's not necessary for me it's not necessary for my son either....

                                                                                            1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                              I agree not every person is going to like everything. We see the no go foods as just more of a challenge. The only rule is try it (and go in with an open miond is a corollary). Funny you mention liver. Coming from an English mom, liver was common in our house so I still like it. It is the one food that I have come across that no one else in our house will even allow me to cook! I have to get my fill at pubs. My son asked me the other day if he could try it. I was thrilled; mom, well not so much.

                                                                                              Odd thing about the milk dislike though. I am curious if others have ideas (not meaning to be pushy, but rather as yet another challenge). My kids gloomed on to soy milk for a while. I know it is not a dairy product (and it has lots of sugar!) but they liked the taste which is not very milk like.

                                                                                              I just keep the kids worried they might be missing out on the best food ever so they just keep trying. Eventually they will figure out it is the journey not the destination that is the fun part. By then, hopefully, they will be hooked the journey. I think our eldest is already at that stage. It is gratifiying to see as a parent.

                                                                                              1. re: foodiesnorth

                                                                                                We have the "try it" rule too. And I have found it to be true that the more my son sees something the more inclined he is to accept it as food. I cook a wide variety of meals, mostly so I don't get bored :) - and it really helps to keep him open to trying lots of different things.

                                                                                                As for the milk thing - it almost drove me crazy at first. He drank so much milk from the age of 1 yr old on that I could barely keep it in the house. But it was like a switch got thrown the second I took that bottle away. And I tried for a while to force him back to it. He just wouldn't budge. And the thing is, he is a really good kid who gives us very little trouble and asks for very little. One thing he DID ask for was to be allowed the choice of not eating/drinking a very few foods and I decided that it wasn't too much to ask.

                                                                                                1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                  As far as milk goes, I know I was the same. I drank milk from a bottle but absolutely would not touch it after the bottle was gone. To this day i find the idea of a glass of milk fairly repulsive.
                                                                                                  The Offspring never had a bottle. She went straight from nursing to using a cup. Milk is not a problem for her although she prefers chocolate milk to plain. She'll even have half a glass of so of buttermilk when offered.
                                                                                                  Maybe it has something to do with the bottle itself?

                                                                                                  1. re: rockycat

                                                                                                    Yeah, I think it might have had something to do with the bottle. My niece and nephew did the same thing - milk refusal after the bottle was taken away, but they are less resolute about it. I have talked to a surprising number of people whose children did the same thing. If anybody had mentioned this to me when he was still nursing I may have forgone the bottle phase.

                                                                                    2. Be careful what you wish for.

                                                                                      When I was younger my parents never served anything processed. Almost every night my mother would make a meal that most people would pay $25-30 to eat at a restaurant today. Sure on occasion we had roast chicken, but it would be served with some sort of appetizer, or a spruced up salad. I grew up on gourmet cheese platters and fine wines (I believe the statute of limitations are up, so i can mention this). As a teen I learned to love sushi, but ironically didn't love all types of cooked fish until only years ago. Still can't find a liking for salmon, but hey, even top chefs hate every day ingredients. I was made to eat what was put in front of me, and while I might have hated it then, I appreciate my parents concern in my experiencing food.

                                                                                      So why the initial statement. Well, I eat a lot. I love to eat. Given the opportunity, I'd probably prefer a great meal to many of life's other indulgences. And while there is nothing inherently wrong with this it has pretty much ruined restaurants for me. Other than convenience, I find that 95% of all restaurants are terrible. Sure some have that one item, but most are well below average. Why pay $30 for a dish that is made to appeal to the masses who have very different tastes than I do, when it will not appeal to mine.

                                                                                      Italian restaurants are the biggest culprits, and sadly, and I've had this conversation with several raised eyebrows with my friends, Italian households are equally as guilty. Ironically, about 3/4 of the best italian meals I've had were not produced by anyone who has any Italian blood in them I'm constantly hearing about Arthur Ave you this, and 'classic italian" that, and frankly I'm unimpressed. I would love to go to Italy and experience real Italain food, because I just know it can't be as bad as what I have experienced over the last few years. I'm a beginner cook at best, and my basic Italian stuff blows away what I've had at many an Italian grandmother's table.

                                                                                      The other problem is money. My parents used to by sashimi grade tuna by the lb and we'd have feasts on the stuff, but to do so now, it would cost me a fortune...and are you really getting Sushi grade tuna? Probably not.

                                                                                      I remember once going to a French restaurant with my parents and friends when I was 9-10, and I asked the waiter if I could instead of having the escargot appetizer, if I could have two orders with some nice french bread for soaking up all the sauce as an entree. The waiter paused and explained what they were to me, and I said, "if I didn't know that I wouldn't have ordered them." They sat there in amazement as I ate these with such exceitement and enjoyment.

                                                                                      Obviously, my initial comment was to be taken as a joke, but my love for food, and my high standards have made me a little more than a hound, and a bit of a snob, as is also apparent, but a majority of my posts on CH being f the negative variety. I can only blame my parents!

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: jhopp217

                                                                                        while it's true that most restaurants would be ruined, you don't have to spend a fortune to eat well. by cooking vegetarian meals and using high quality ingredients you can save a lot. save the "delicacies" for once a day or les.

                                                                                      2. When my daughter was young and in preschool we had a restaurant that we lived above. She went to the preschool and one day they called me , very concerned and said that my daughter wouldn't eat the cold sandwich they provided each day. I clued them in to her foodie tastes and they said I could send her lunch in if she would then eat with the other kids. A few days later the director of the preschool came in to the restaurant and said "I want Lizzy's lunch". I had sent a pasta dish with fresh local wild mushrooms that I picked with prawns etc . Lizzy was about 3.The dish eventually went on the menu as "lizzy's lunch"
                                                                                        I also caught one of my cooks asking her if the red sauce was right....she told the cook correctly ( I checked and she was right) She is 17 now and enjoys food and will try anything.
                                                                                        As someone else mentioned , I hope she gets a really good job to support her food habits

                                                                                        1. My son, now 3, was born with a serious heart defect. As a result of this and other health issues, he had many problems with feeding and weight-gain...every calorie counted and we kept track of everything he ate for about two years and counted daily caloric intake. (Many surgeries later, including open-heart at 4 months, he's fine now!) One of his nutritionists suggested adding Tabasco to his baby food to "wake up" his taste-buds and spark an interest in food. So our litle boy started on spicy foods almost right away, and we fed him absolutely anything that he showed an interest in eating...which meant that he usually ended up eating off our plates, and we're into food in a big way.

                                                                                          Ironically, we were having dinner tonight and he handed my wife his Kit Kat Bar that he wanted for dessert and instead demanded a bite of her Heirloom Tomato. Enough said!

                                                                                          But there are still times when I'd give anything for him to eat a cheeseburger or chicken nugget. Instead, he wants quiche for dinner.

                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: ejs1492

                                                                                            First of all, my absolute, huge, unreserved sympathy to you for going through such a serious health problem with your little son. What a scary way to enter the world (for him) and parenthood (for you).

                                                                                            I'm delighted to hear the happy upshot to the story - what started out as a serious medical problem ended up being an opportunity to eat interesting, varied, healthy food! How lucky he is to have parents who get him not just good care, but fun, excitement and whimsy... and how lucky you were to happen into a nutritionist who could think outside the box for kid eating ideas. Thanks for sharing your happy story with us all and best wishes for your son's continued good health ... & good eating!

                                                                                            1. re: Mawrter

                                                                                              Thanks for your good wishes. It all raises an interesting question that could be a thread unto itself:do kids only eat pizza and nuggets because that's what we give them? In India, kids eat spicy food. Same with Korea. Same with a LOT of places outside the U.S. We learned, the hard way, that there is no scientific evidence to support the theory that babies' digestive systems cannot handle flavorful food. Biologically, they aren't going to let themselves starve, so start 'em at a young age and they'll learn eat what you feed them.

                                                                                              So, when my daughter was born, we basically fed her everything and - even though she's only 1 - she'll eat everything in sight.

                                                                                              It's the old chicken and egg conundrum, I suppose.....

                                                                                          2. People who are in the food business are just so delighted to find Chowpups. We just had a fantastic dinner at one of our favorite restaurants -where my son chose to go as a special treat- and the chef invited him into the kitchen to help make dessert. I guess if you spend all of your time interacting with little ones complaining that you're not serving not chicken nuggets, it's pretty thrilling to find a kid who appreciates your creations and eats with gusto. It makes it even nicer to go places and realize you're be remembered (fondly) as the family with the kid who loves the mussels.

                                                                                            1. I have 2 boys. One is definately a chow pup, the other, not so much. We raised them both the same, just completely different kids with completely different tastes, and personalities.
                                                                                              My youngest (age 7) is a pure joy to eat with. He loves thai, mexican, and the last time we took him out he ordered lasagna off the 'grown-up' menu because it had proscuitto and goat cheese. The kids version was plain. Loves mushrooms, asparagus, basically all fruits and veggies.Cooking and eatng with him is always fun and exciting.
                                                                                              The oldest (age 9) is disgustingly kid picky. Wants pizza, and nuggets and is not too pleased with being asked to try new food. He is of course reuired to try, not required to eat. (Through this he has just learned he loves moo shu, even though he thinks it 'looks gross.') I try to work around it by making my own pizza and fancy nuggets in hopes to broaden his palate. Thankfully he does love veggies, and most fruit.
                                                                                              Wow, I just figured out their food taste completely match their personalities. The youngest is wild and crazy- just like his food choices Oldest is mild and predictable, just like his food preferences!

                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: sunangelmb

                                                                                                Yeah, I'm more in the camp that you can do your best to introduce your kids to a wide variety of foods but in the end, their own personalities will have a very big effect on their food tastes and you shouldn't beat yourself up too much about a child who just isn't a chowhound at the moment. (Hey things, and people change. You never know what the future might bring.) I also think that parents faced with picky kids need to keep trying to expose them to different foods, just as you said, sunangelmb. My own little guy is 8 now and he has always been a good eater, but he has his own quirks - no cheese (except mozzerella), no peanut butter, and no milk. He also wouldn't eat anything spicy - but I kept working to expose him to spicy food (which my husband and I love), and we finally had a break through a few weeks ago. Makes me really happy because it just made cooking for the family a lot easier.:) (He's sticking to his story about cheese though, and I'm leaving that alone - for now.)

                                                                                                1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                  he may not be eating milk, amd peanuts because they are allergens for him. His body naturally is avoiding them. Not a definite of course but something to consider. Not all allergic reaction are type one and present themselves rt away some take hours or days and therefore are really hard to identify.

                                                                                                  1. re: coastie

                                                                                                    That's actually why I haven't forced the issue with him. The same thought occurred to me and since I cleared with his doctor that he's getting enough calcium and vitamin D in his diet through other means, I decided that the wisest course of action was to let him avoid these foods. Peanut butter is absolutely no big deal - easy to avoid - (except when he was attending a Jewish preschool where he had to be sent with a kosher lunch - it would have been a LOT easier if he ate PB&J sandwiches (or any sandwich for that matter - he wouldn't eat sandwiches of any kind until about age 7) - fortunately he eats yogurt so he ate that three days a week for 2 years and every day for kindergarten.)

                                                                                                    He drank TONS of milk when he was "on the bottle" from age one until about 2 1/2. As I wrote previously, his milk refusal started when I took the bottle away.

                                                                                                    He eats (and really likes) nuts and peanuts - just not peanut butter.

                                                                                                    The cheese is the hardest thing for me because I love to cook with it. Oh well. On the scale of things in life that are difficult to deal with, I relaize that this is a very very very minor thing.

                                                                                              2. My children are discerning eaters. My 10 year old loves quince paste with her bleu de gex (when we do cheese & cracker night). Unfortunately, my kids make terrible diners at friend's houses. Although...mac & cheese seems to appeal to all children! The only food they truly cannot abide is...American cheese. No one in the famiy enjoys this "flavor".

                                                                                                1. More of a chow kid that I ever was or ever will be. The moment I knew was when she had just turned three. We went to Sheraton Palace in SF because my DH's company was having a conference there, so we went to use the pool. After swimming, I asked, "Would you like to eat at the restaurant here? Maybe share a prawn and scallop pasta? She replied, "I LOVE prawns and scallops!" We ordered and eat our very enjoyable meal.

                                                                                                  She's almost 12 now. She loves sushi, sashimi, and pretty much most foods. She won't eat papaya, which might be the only thing I eat that she won't. I don't eat a lot of things. When she eats, she can make food look like it taste a lot better than it really does because she really enjoys eating.

                                                                                                  1. I shared an artichoke with my 2.5 year old last night! Yippee! I was really concerned that the strong flavor would be too much for him but he loved it!

                                                                                                    But I do wonder sometimes if he’s eating more for me rather than himself. He knows that I’m excited about food and he knew that I was excited about that artichoke (it’s SPRING!). Children, particularly small children, copy their parents. Well, whatever the reasoning behind it all, he’s eating artichokes, asparagus, and avocados…three of my favorite things that my husband isn’t very interested in.

                                                                                                    Perhaps rather than teaching him to taste, I’m teaching him to be willing to try. I can live with that.

                                                                                                    1. It is great to see so many kids being raised as CHOW kids! Yay! We are trying too. While my husband from Jersey likes to corrupt with pep. pizza and french fries, we try and keep her on a varied diet. Her favorites right now are spinach or basil pesto (since birth this has been a fav), homemade wholegrain pretzels, raw veggies, any kind of medium to mild hot pepper sauce, beans, & ham hocks (boiled or roasted). We're in the middle the countryside in Germany, so our choices are somewhat limited, but at 3 she is still a happy and somewhat adventurous eater :)

                                                                                                      1. i was a chow kid! my mom said that it always shocked waiters when i was three years old and ordering steamers at a seafood restaurant.

                                                                                                        i have definitely grown into an adventurous eater, and it always helped that my parents encouraged me to try new foods but never made me eat something that i disliked (but only if i had in fact tried it).

                                                                                                        1. Don't have my own kid... but I hosted a Thai exchange student (17) for 11 months last year. I became friends with her aunt while spending time in Thailand and when I heard she needed a host family I could not resist.
                                                                                                          She had never left Thailand before and was from a smaller town, and really was put off by typical american junk food. But I took her to any place in town that was decent and we cooked a lot of meals together. I think we tought each other, lol. She can now tolerate cheese, and I love my fried rice omelets. Now back at home, she uses some of my recipes--and that makes me happy :)

                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                            That's a great story. Sounds like it was a good experience for both of you.

                                                                                                            1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                              Wow this was resurrected! So, in two years, my clone is now an almost teenager. Not picky, but a bit more careful, watching her figure--she thinks. THIS is whole different phase: you want your kids to be healthy, open minded and adventurous, but you need to ensure they keep a positive body image. Some of her friends have already shown symptoms of possible trouble (one kid ate rice and apples for about a week, because some fly by night "modeling agent" said she should lose a few pounds!). This is complicated by more independent socializing--they'll go to Starbucks or a local to "study"--and order high fat drinks and things like pizza and fries. Sigh. Don't forget your vitamin.

                                                                                                              1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                Thanks, it was really great. And the thing I learned the most is how few vegetables I was eating! That's totally changed---and last night, she made her family chicken cordon bleu, lol!!

                                                                                                              2. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                cute. my roomate freshman year of college was from Thailand. We used to cook fried rice and shrimp omelettes with lots of fish sauce in the dorm kitchen. Everyone would complain about the smell. She also deep fried salmon steaks and kept them in the fridge. somehow they were delicious.

                                                                                                              3. We totally have a chow pup. I guess I just have no patience for picky. We eat absolutely everything and expect him to as well. This love of diversity can backfire, though. Especially on nights when we just want to grab a quick burger and he holds out for sushi, or lobbies for Greek (because he has an absolute craving for grilled octopus) or, Heaven forbid, the raw bar. This kid can eat his weight in oysters on the half shell. I don't think he's ever ordered from the "kid's menu". Eye roll if I'd even suggest it.

                                                                                                                1. I'm trying to raise kids who think about the food they are eating; where it came from & if it was once a living thing, to be mindful of that and to use every part of the animal in their cooking; how food makes them feel afterward;and how fortunate they are that if they want chicken nuggets, they can have it. If they want steak, they can have that too. And so forth. Because at least half the world doesn't have this luxury, and believe me, it is a luxury.

                                                                                                                  Like my parents, who did not forbid any food from me, I don't for my kids. If they want McDonald's, it's ok. But I set limits, as in not McDonald's every day.

                                                                                                                  I grew up eating McDonald's, KFC, all the so-called chains, and I'm one of the healthiest people I know. But I also grew up with regular home-cooked meals , where dinner every night comprised a seafood dish, lots of fresh vegetables, soup, rice, meat, etc.

                                                                                                                  We ate simple because we were poor. We didn't buy the best cut of anything, believe me. For a while, we used canned chicken broth as the base for our soups. And we LOVED the greasy pizza we'd get from the corner place.

                                                                                                                  Now, living in one of the best gastronomical cities in the world (New York), I can avail myself to anything I desire. On my agenda for this week: dinner at a Greek restaurant and another dinner at a steak house. And my kids are super fortunate to have the opportunity to be exposed to such diverse culinary delights.

                                                                                                                  But mostly, like their mother, my kids are fortunate that they never go to bed hungry (unlike their grandparents--my parents--for whom hunger was an all-too familar feeling growing up). And they know it, appreciate it and don't take their fortune for granted.

                                                                                                                  And that's really the only type of "chowkid" I want to raise.

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. re: gloriousfood

                                                                                                                    I don't forbid either. I just sort of try to discourage sometimes :) It is FAR worse to me to FORCE anyone to eat anything and to use food as a punishment. In fact it's reprehensible I have witnessed this recently and it made me ill. Food should never be a power trip--ever!

                                                                                                                  2. I had two boys here for fostering last year. They had come from a home of neglect, a Mom too busy getting high to buy or cook food. The poor wee guys were digging thru the cupboards eating anything they could, the older would try to cook for the younger, telling me how he tried to microwave scrambled eggs for them, etc.
                                                                                                                    Even when she did bother feeding them it seems hot dogs and noodles were the menu. So when they landed here it was quite the shock for them, THREE meals a day and stuff they had never ever seen before. They would try most of it, especially the younger one, and I truly had to be careful they didn't gorge themselves and get sick at first. As soon as they got off the bus they wanted to know what I was making for supper. I liked to tease them sometimes, telling them we were having stuffed rat with cockroach sauce or grasshopper stew!

                                                                                                                    Some things I had to introduce carefully, I first gave them breaded fish because they were only ok with fish sticks.....then the breading came off, next time the sauce would be on it....they slowly started to enjoy a wide variety of foods. Some things, like shrimp, were an instant hit.

                                                                                                                    The older boy developed a real interest in cooking and I'd let him help in the kitchen and explain things as I went along, we would also watch "Chef at Home" together, he loved that show and it was also good bonding time for us to have "our show". The younger wanted to be involved so he made himself the waiter and drew a menu and prices for our "restaurant"....home of the one dollar beer ;-)

                                                                                                                    Once the younger boy lost a bet with me, he chose his own payback and ate an entire can of peas, what a funny little character he is.

                                                                                                                    It was a very fun experience watching them find out there is so much good stuff out there, seeing them finally relax and stop eating as if there would be no food the next day, and teling them meals that are good always have love in them :-)

                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: crazee

                                                                                                                      Wow, powerful story. Do you stay in contact with them?

                                                                                                                      1. re: Funwithfood

                                                                                                                        I try-the Dad finally stepped up and is being an ass about the whole thing, re visitation etc. I think he is having retroactive guilt....he wouldn't step up when the mother first lost them and they went into care (my place) then decided almost a year later he wanted them,they said they were happier here, and weren't that happy to go with him.

                                                                                                                        Kids having kids is not the brightest of ideas, in my book.......but they know my door is always open for the little ones :-)

                                                                                                                    2. I have two kids, a boy (5) and a girl (3). Mom is Japanese and takes pride in preparing quality food for the kids. We are one for two so far. The boy is serious about his food and is taking a cooking class after kindergarten on Mondays. Last week he brought home spinach quiche and chocolate dipped strawberries. Amazing. He eats everything and gets super excited when we make sushi at home.
                                                                                                                      The girl on the other hand, wont eat veggies and is always asking for chocolate, pizza and snacks.
                                                                                                                      She loves fruit, but is a work in progress. She loves her soba noodles, but she picks out anything green!

                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: AdamD

                                                                                                                        This sounds exactly like my brother's two kids. The older one, a girl, will eat almost anything. The younger one, the boy, won't touch anything green - and yes, he will pick it out of his food. They were raised the same way, exposed to the same foods, and yet, the boy is extremely picky. So, he too, is a work in progress,

                                                                                                                        1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                          My son is your stereotypical picky toddler -- there are a few foods he'll eat beyond the typical stuff (olives, pickles, some of the Armenian food we can get in our neighborhood that he's grown up eating) but otherwise he's anti-veggie, pro-mac and cheese, and is constantly asking for snacks. Baby #2 is scheduled to arrive shortly and I love hearing stories about two kids who are completely different in their eating habits. I really hope #2 is more of a "chow kid". Meanwhile, I keep telling my son that it's normal to like a wider range of foods as you get older, and even though he may not like [any kind of sauce, hummus, melted cheese, peanut butter, cooked veggies, etc.] now, he'll like them eventually so he should keep trying once in a while to see if he likes them yet. I think he believes this, but it hasn't changed his present eating habits.

                                                                                                                          To be honest, I often dread reading threads like this -- it's fine (even though it makes me a little jealous) when people proudly discuss their child's sophisticated palate or how they bring their kids to nice restaurants, but then some people take it a step further and say how sad it is that some parents indulge their children with plain pasta and crackers or order off the kid's menu and they would never do that, and that you have to insist the kids eat whatever you eat. Look, I try, I really do. But my kid is who he is.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Pia

                                                                                                                            You sound like you are doing the best you can do. And every kid just isn't the same, as you pointed out.

                                                                                                                            Best of luck with the soon-to-be new arrival - I'll keep my fingers crossed for you that #2 is a chow kid. And keep up the good work on #1. :)

                                                                                                                      2. I don't have kids, I'm only 18, but I was a chow kid and my brothers, 13 and 11,are huge chow kids. All three of us are members of Southern Foodways Alliance, the 13 year old is a master butcher and can break down wild game of all sorts at a particularly shocking rate of speed(he also gardens and raises 100 chickens). The other started helping us make homemade wine last year and has a strange understanding of the nuances of different varieties of black truffles. Having read other responses, I feel like we may be a bit strange...

                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: dailybread8383

                                                                                                                          But very, very special, dailybread - good for all THREE of you!

                                                                                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                            I think so too, being raised in the south and acknowledging your culinary heritage is something I'm glad my parents always instilled in us

                                                                                                                        2. I raised three kids who know, like and appreciate good food. I'll leave it to them, whether they were raised "chowkids." This brought a memory, though; maybe 20 years ago, of hearing a (perhaps) 6-year-old girl give her order at a local Basque/French restaurant:
                                                                                                                          "I'd like still water now, so I can have it with my escargot. For my entree I will have the lapin en moutarde, and please bring me a Shirley Temple with it."
                                                                                                                          I cannot describe the look on the server's face: something between delight and consternation.

                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                            Have a very adventurous 2 yr old. Eats all the 'weird' foods her cousins won't touch. Of course, we don't call anything 'weird'. Just 'yummy'!
                                                                                                                            A great book has been written on the subject, www.hungrymonkeybook.com
                                                                                                                            Any author that can work the term 'smegma' into a childrens food book, is my kind of writer!

                                                                                                                            1. re: amphiblvr

                                                                                                                              I'm more than a little curious as to how a writer worked "smegma" into a cookbook... and that too one for kids?

                                                                                                                              I'm not raising any kids yet, but I try to work on my 10yo niece whenever I can. She loves the ribs I smoke, and I take her out to watch them being cooked low n slow on the smoker I built whenever I can. She does think it is a bit smokey when I light it up, but she is beginning to understand the finer points of bbq. Took her to a taco truck at a local farmer's market last year, so she could see that fruits and veg don't only come from sterile corporate supermarkets. She loved the fact that she could see the woman making her tacos right in front of her. Later when she was back home with her parents they stopped at a chain Mexcican restaurant one day. She saw her order come out, looked at it, slowly shook her head and said "these don't look like real tacos". I think her future looks promising! Plus she has lived in Singapore, China, and India, so her tastebuds have been exposed to many flavors.

                                                                                                                          2. My 6-year old is somewhat of a chowkid. When he helps me in the kitchen, he is very serious about using his own special apron, which has a slot for his tasting spoon. He also has his own knife (kinderkitchen "dog" knife) and cutting board. He prefers to sprinkle his own kosher salt from our salt cellar on his meals. He claims to not like "spicy," but one of his favorite condiments is mustard. He likes visiting farmers' markets, especially when the vendors are offering samples of their produce. This caused a problem when he was a little younger, because he thought he could help himself to anything on any of the tables! He still loves "blue box" mac, as well as fast food, and it usually takes some coaxing to get him to try new foods, but at least I know that when he leaves home, he'll have some basic cooking skills, exposure to lots of different foods, and, hopefully, share my gratitude for the variety and abundance we are fortunate enough to enjoy.

                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                            1. re: CapreseStacy

                                                                                                                              It took me a few years to realize that when the Offspring complained about something being too spicy, it meant that there was a noticeable taste of black pepper. It confused us for years since she really does like hot pepper. She simply doesn't like black pepper.

                                                                                                                            2. I used to freeze cubes of blended grown-up food for my first baby. One night I wasn't home and left directions for my husband to feed the babe a cube of spinach. I came home and found babe contentedly finishing a cube of thawed pesto! These kids love artichokes, chicken liver, eggplant, lamb, all kinds of things. They each have one real dislike; one hates cabbage, one hates ricotta cheese. No sweat -- they don't have to eat these things! But they do try everything. When the older one found a Chinese boyfriend, the boy's family would take everyone out to dim sum at authentic restaurants. Apparently my daughter impressed the family and the waiters because she was one of the few while girls they had seen who were willing to eat fish stomach soup and all kinds of things. The lesson my kids have learned is; Fear No Food!

                                                                                                                              1. One of the greatest rewards of bringing up a Chow Kid is the payoff all these many years later. At four, she giggled and squealed when she tasted smoked fish; at 15 her eyes lit up when that first Damariscotta oyster captured her; and just last week while on a road trip, this almost-21-yr-old tasted really good chopped liver, looked at me reproachfully, and said, "Why haven't I had this before?" Right up there with first words and steps!

                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: elenacampana

                                                                                                                                  Another reward, once they're grown up: when they cook for you and it's really good!

                                                                                                                                  1. re: BobB

                                                                                                                                    Yes! I love to cook for my parents! I hope my son feels the same way some day. He sure loves great food and he's showing a real interest in learning how to cook.

                                                                                                                                2. Yes my kids are well on their way. As babies ( one is 2 1/2 the other 13 months) I always made my own baby food and they basically ate whatever we were eating....god bless the magic bullet!!!!! I pretty much allow my kids anything they want almost all the time but with that in mind if you ask ( my daughter who is almost three) what she wants its almost always fruit or something healthy. She enjoys helping me cook and being in the kitchen. I love it!!!!

                                                                                                                                  1. My 13-year-old daughter is starting to do a fair amount of cooking and she's not nearly as picky as she used to be. She still doesn't like really spicy food though. It's a work in progress.

                                                                                                                                    1. I really hope so. I've noticed, at least with my family and friends, that an unwillingness to venture outside eating a strict list of foods correlates with a fear of new experiences in general. Maybe not true with everyone, but certainly with my circle. I think that limits a person so much, and instead I hope that exposing my kids to a variety of new tastes gives them a little security as they encounter other new experiences throughout their lives.

                                                                                                                                      I don't even care whether they prefer a McD's burger to what I feed them at home, I just don't want them to fear the experience of doing something new.

                                                                                                                                      1. My son used to be quite the chowpup, but between a very stressful bullying situation and being introduced to school lunches lost that tendency for a while. I have been quite relieved recently to see him slowly coming back around. I have permitted him to order from the dreadful "kids' menus" in the meantime, and have requested only that he sniff--not even taste--what I'm eating. We are beginning to branch out more at home, and he's getting more interested in grocery shopping with me. I hope/think he's heading back towards being an adventurous eater, if slightly more cautious.