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Sixteen years of vigilance pays off

My son started out as a very picky eater. He refused to eat fruits and veggies and wouldn't even look at something if it wasn't pancakes, chicken nuggets or pizza. When he was about 3 or 4, I had had enough. I started working very hard to expand his palate. Progress came at a snail's pace, but it came.

Today is his sixteenth birthday and he's completely excited about this evening's menu: duck breasts with raspberry sauce, baby potatoes roasted in duck fat and haricots verts with shallots.

And this from a kid who used to roll his green beans off the tray of his high chair.

I'm one happy mom tonight. Now, if I can just get him to cook. ;o)

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  1. Kudos to you and your chow-teen!!!

    1. Nice!! Congrats Christina!!

      I am having the opposite problem. My son was an extremely adventurous eater. Poached salmon with dill at brunch, chicken feet at dim sum, pepper jack on his grilled cheese, any and all veggies, spicy sushi, liver, you name it, he ate it. At around 11 stopped liking "spicy", then he stopped liking fish, then he wanted his burger cooked well and the only veggies he would eat were carrots, edamame, broccoli, brussels sprouts, corn and peas. When we ate out he wanted pasta topped butter and freshly grated parm. Begs for luncheables that "all his friends are allowed to eat". Little shit, LOL. Thankfully he had been cooking since the age of 3 or 4 so now if doesn't like dinner he can make is own AND clean it up.

      I am praying he outgrows this and goes back to eating a wide variety of foods.

      4 Replies
        1. re: Steve

          He just turned 12 earlier this month.

          1. re: foodieX2

            Oh, so this has not been going on for all that long..... kids are all full of turnabouts and food quirks: my son (now 18) will eat steak tartare but insists on his hamburgers well done. Doesn't have to make sense.

            My guess is that your son will go through many iterations on his list of likes and dislikes. Just keep on exposing him to different things and let him choose.

            The good thing is that you can get rice and/or noodles just about anywhere you go!

            1. re: foodieX2

              It's just a phase he's going thru. When I was 11-15, I suddenly turned nauseous whenever I see Chinese "dim sum". Just kills my appetite there & then. Strange, because I quite liked it when I was younger. Gotten over that since then.

        2. Tell him the easiest way to impress is to offer a home cooked meal. Worked for me in a school with 18 guys to every lady.

          1 Reply
          1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

            Yes, he's more than old enough to do KP and to learn some kitchen skills. This will save him money, help maintain good health, and impress friends and potential mates.

          2. I truly believe that expanding your child's palate does them wonders later in life. Not just from a nutritional standpoint, but from a social one, too.
            Like it or not, you kind of come off as an unsophisticated rube when you're ordering chicken nuggets at a business meeting!

            1. I'd be excited about that menu too!! Congrats on your un-picky eater!!

              1. btw, kick ass cook for a mom, too!!

                1. Yeah! I think that what parents regard as normal and interesting eventually channels down into the children, as well.

                  1. No matter what my parents did--no special meals, it I wanted something different I had to make it myself--I was a very picky eater. When I was 25, I met a man (who became my husband) who was an adventurous cook and eater................I changed fast.

                    1. Time for your son to get a Chowhound name!

                      1. Yay, congrats to you!

                        I had a payoff moment this weekend. My 11 year old was helping me make dinner, flank steak and scallops, when he asked if we had any shrimp to add to the mix. Nope, all eaten. At that point he ACTUALLY PICKED UP A PEN and wrote FROZED SHRIMP on the shopping list. Apart from the spelling error, I was thrilled. Hopefully a future spouse will thank me!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: tcamp

                          "Hopefully a future spouse will thank me!"

                          Y'know, I'm usually more of the hard-boiled egg when it comes to shows of emotion, but I had a moment earlier this summer when my son's girlfriend leaned in at the dinner table and thanked me for teaching my son to cook. Heaven help me, I misted up. The two of them cook together daily, and really seem to enjoy their relationship in the kitchen. It felt nice to have contributed a bit to that sort of happy harmony.

                        2. Big hooray for you, Christina D! Isn't it delightfully satisfying?

                          To be fair, I can't really lay claim to any vigilance other than doing what I normally do, as both of my kids were pretty non-picky and sort of naturally adventurous eaters. But I never anticipated just *how* interested in food both of them have become. At 25 and 20, both are not only competent in the kitchen, but often impressive. And food informs so much of their lives: they are informed and sometimes vocal about food policy, cook for and with friends as mainstays of their social lives, educate themselves about products, about food culture, on and on. It's a rare week that I don't talk to one or the other or both about some dish they are making...and not generally in a "What do I do now?" way, but because they're so enthused and want to share that enthusiasm. It's pretty wonderful. In many ways, I think their love of procuring, making and sharing food has contributed to their being better people than I had hoped. It's hard to put my finger on *it* exactly, but the intersection of food interests really puts the icing on the cake of the relationship we have.

                          And if nothing else, I never have to worry about them not eating well!

                          Big thumbs up to you...kept doing what you're doing and enjoy how rewarding it is.

                          1. Oh, I hope my nephew and niece grow into this! Right now, their mom (my sister) is a picky eater herself and is trying to pass it on to the kids, I think.

                            My nephew once expressed interest in trying the calamari I was eating and my sister wouldn't allow it, because SHE doesn't like calamari!!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Violatp

                              Major food crime! Hopefully they will rebel.

                            2. I can so relate! Fed my eldest bits of everything we ate whenhe was a child. People were amazed to see him pop down baby squid, any vegetable known to man, liver.. then i guess because most kids want to rebel.. no no no. Until he found out he could impress his friends with his cooking skills/palate. Now he is calling me from NY asking how to make minestra, grape leaves, and anything Mexican. His last care package he requested pe
                              ruvian beans and dried chiles.

                              1. You know that he has "arrived," when he requests Foie Gras, Grilled Brussels Sprouts and Heirloom Beans.


                                1. Sounds like my dad. When he and mom married in '65, he was strictly meat n' taters. My mom, however, was quite adventurous for a west Texan in the mid-sixties, and insisted on preparing more exotic fare. If he didn't like it, he could either go hungry or pick up some fast food. Slowly, ever so slowly, he came around. And by the time of his passing in 2006, his palate was quite broad, indeed.

                                  I have mimicked my dad to an extent. I was extremely particular as a child, but my palate is much more catholic today, and becomes ever more so with each passing year. I'll never eat some of the stuff that other hounds do, but my palate is probably somewhat broader than your average Joe.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                    Your post reminds me of my uncle, my father's oldest brother. His wife was a fairly terrible cook. He would call home late in the afternoon to ask if he could 'bring anything home' and at the same time find out what was in store for dinner. If dinner was something that he did not find to his liking, he would stop at Burger King or McDonald's on the way home. My cousins caught on when they found the wrappers in the trash cans in the garage.