Welcome to Mom’s Café – where we serve nothing you want. At least that's where my daughter Gia thinks she eats.
“Ewww” is what I hear when she sees the food I just made sittin on the plate in front of her. There’s nothing wrong with my cooking, it’s actually quite good - especially if I've been drinking red wine while cooking. Everything is better with red wine. Nonetheless, I have tried to stand my ground on the conviction that I will not make a different meal than what I have already prepared for her.
Here are the two tricks I've learned to get her to eat and let me think I have actually won.
To get Gia to eat is to let her eat at the neighbour’s house. Across the street from us lives a very nice and generous woman from Bethlehem. She makes food all the time while her two boys are at my house… all afternoon. She makes incredible ethnic food that Gia would never eat at home. But set a plate of Manakish (or as we call it - ground meat mixed with spices on round bread) in front of my daughter when she's at the neighbour's and she eats like she hasn’t been fed for a week.
Then there’s the family in the house down the street where my daughter’s best friend lives. At my house, a plate of chicken and potatoes would solicit a turned up nose and a turn away from the table. At the BFF’s house, it’s the best food ever!
It’s all in the sauce and it’s all about the condiments - common knowledge amongst anyone who has sat down with a five year old at a restaurant table that has a bottle of ketchup set smack dab in the middle. It’s the letting go of the “who’s in control” issue that’s the trick. That’s the one I had to learn for myself.
Give Gia a plate of veggies and dip, and yes she has licked the dip out the bowl, holding it up over her mouth to get every last drip, but she has also eaten her veggies. Half of a bottle of ketchup - but the chicken is gone. Mustard all over the plate? Whatever was on her plate is all now in her tummy (it doesn’t matter if its pasta, or a pickle cheese sandwich, mustard makes it all go down).
Once in awhile, Gia tells me the meal I made is the best food ever and I smile. I know the food critic will return, but for that meal, Chef Mommy is content.