I once read an article about Ana Sortun, the acclaimed chef/owner of the wonderful restaurant Oleana. She talked about how she believed that her daughter, Siena, was a good eater as a toddler because Ana repeatedly gave her daughter everything that she ate with her husband. So Siena ate food flavored with many spices. I loved the idea of not "dumbing down" my food for R, of sharing these complex meals and of enjoying food.
Alas, despite all my attempts, my son really subsists on "yog" (YoBaby brand yogurt), "noodlesauce" (pasta with jarred sauce on the side), chicken nuggets (the frozen kind) and "orangemacancheese" (Annie's brand only) to anything else.
As our son is so small that he is literally not on the growth charts, my husband and I continue to try to find a balance between our style of eating (we eat most anything), what we grew up with (the begging and pleading of the "One more bite or no dessert" sort) and the practice that R. experiences with his daycare provider, Anne. Anne is a big supporter of the Ellyn Satter belief system. Satter, author of This Child of Mine advocates that as parents you provide the "what" (what type of food) and the child decides on the "how much." She is against the begging and pleading, and is opposed to the "one bite rule" and being a "short order cook."
In theory her ideas are great: Yay, a simpler life. Yay, a toddler that eats everything. But like every great mommy book, the ideas are often better in theory...
For example, it doesn't address the reality that I would far more prefer to eat bi bim bap or a composed salad than noodlesauce. Or that despite my son trying chicken (the grilled kind) for the 20th time, he still isn't ready to eat it.
So, for now most meals are dual: I make what my husband and I would like. And I make what I know R will eat. And then I am thrilled when he wants to try a bite. I am even more excited when, on the rare occasion he asks for more!
This happened recently after a trip to the new John's Market on Linden Street in Brighton (right by Spike's Dogs and just down the street from the Super 88.) John's Market is a Korean grocery store, but better. Why? Well the owners make many of their own dishes. So, in the refrigerator section are dish upon dish of banchan, or little dishes that are served with Korean meals. These include sweet black beans; dozens of kinds of pickles (from radish, to fern to bean sprouts); and multiple styles of kim chee. But the best was the prepared meat section. There, although not cheap, was Kalbi or Korean short ribs. Soaked in a sweet soy sauce, the owner explained that all I needed to do was heat up a pan and saute them on both sides for a bit.
Armed with my stash from John's and a fresh bowl of rice from our great rice cooker, I placed my meal on the table in front of R. And the same little boy who rarely diverges beyond his noodles, took one bite of the sweet beans and one bite of the kalbi...and ate almost all of it up. While I confess to being a bit sad that I didn't get to indulge too much in this wonderful treat, it was worth it.
I found this kalbi at Trader Joe's in the freezer section and cooked them up on the grill. They were good and incredibly easy, though a bit sweet. But I also think another trip to Brighton is in order!