There Is Hope for Her Taste Buds

The goddess…she is picky.

A picky eater, that is.

Most nights, she doesn’t eat the same dinner as her mother and I do, because there’s something she doesn’t like about it, usually something to do with the seasoning. It’s too spicy. Or too sour. Or too chewy. Or it has too many green bits (oregano or basil flakes, usually) on it. She usually declares this after sticking the tip of her tongue to a bite of the food and holding it there for all of a quarter of a second. (This post from earlier in the year, recycled from one of my other blogs, will give you a better idea of the battles over food around here.)

So, we are reduced to having to put aside a portion of the meat to be cooked outside of whatever seasonings or sauces we are using…with only oil and salt to ready them for her belly, and figure out some alternate vegetable for her to eat out of the three she will tolerate. Or I have to cook angel hair pasta and serve it to her slathered in soy sauce.

My beautiful pictureWe have despaired over this for years, particularly when we visit someone else’s house for dinner and dread her not eating what’s on her plate or making her dissatisfaction known by too much scrunching of the face. We have spent so many years having to be careful to only go to restaurants with kids’ menus.

We’ve stopped catering to that to some extent in recent months. If we want to go to the Indian restaurant for dinner, and she doesn’t want to eat the chicken tandoori because it’s red and therefore spicy (even though in reality it’s simply roasted chicken and isn’t spicy at all)…well, she can order some nan (Indian fried flat bread) and munch on that.

However, I give credit where it is due, and there are signs that her taste buds are starting to mature. When we went to get our first pier fries (crinkle cut french fries) of the season in Old pier-friesOrchard Beach this year,  and again the second time, she demanded that we slather them not only in salt but also vinegar, which is a substance she didn’t want a drop of on her fries last year. When we go to the Mexican restaurant, she now ignores half of the chicken fingers she orders to raid my carnitas (heavily seasoned and marinated, though not spicy, pork). When we went to a barbecue place tonight, she had ribs and loved them. More importantly, she had a bite of corn bread and liked it, and munched heavily on the homemade potato chips, which were thoroughly seasoned with the same dry rub used on the ribs. A few months ago, she would have declared the chips “spicy” (even though they aren’t) and spit them out with all the drama of an opera diva.

Progress is being made. One day, perhaps soon, we might be able to enjoy dim sum together. Or lobster with clam chowder. Perhaps some enchiladas.

Not today perhaps, but soon.

Her tongue has started to grow up with the rest of her.

Thank God.
In the interests of full disclosure, that is me at our dinner table in that first photo, but I don’t know if I was actually even upset about anything, much less her eating habits specifically. I don’t know why I’m holding my head. I don’t even remember our 7-year-old taking this shot this winter, though she did. Goddess of photography, she is not, but it’s not terrible. (Also, it is her Disney kids’ camera that took this shot). The second photo was taken by me and my iPhone, and really was our first pier fries of this year. The box overflows when you get them before tourist season begins.

My Table, My Battlefield

I’m actually stealing…er, recycling…this material from my Holy Sh!+ from Deacon Blue blog. Mostly because I still think it’s funny but also because there are tiny signs (and gradually growing in frequency) that my daughter may actually be starting to develop some actual taste buds and maybe some breadth in her food choices. So, I’m not sure how much longer this post will be true and might as well get more use out of it while I can. For what it’s worth, I first posted this in January 2012. I don’t think anything below has changed in the year-plus since then, except that she won’t eat the shells and cheese anymore as of a couple months ago (but she’s slowly warming to the wife’s homemade baked macaroni and cheese).

If there is one thing that might make me snap as a parent, causing me to fly through the house punching holes through walls and tearing down wallpaper with my fingernails, it will be my daughter’s eating habits.

My wonderful, artistically gifted, verbally advanced, sensitive darling is the pickiest damned eater I have ever had the misfortune to live with and be unable to employ threats of horrendous physical violence against.

If she had her way, her diet would consist of the following, and probably only the following:

  • Milk, chocolate milk and orange juice
  • Strawberries, blackberries and raspberries
  • Bacon and hot dogs (occasionally supplemented with chicken or steak)
  • Green apples, grapes, mandarin oranges and the occasional banana
  • Annie’s Shells & Cheese
  • Tootsie Roll lollipops and gummy anything
  • Ranch dressing
  • Processed cheese sticks and extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • Hot fudge sundaes
  • Yogurt
  • Corn, but only sweet summer corn and only on the cob, heavily salted
  • Gravy (mashed potatoes are considered an inefficient delivery device that merely impedes her ability to drink the gravy)
  • French fries
  • Salt or soy sauce, with or without food that requires it, and preferably deposited thickly enough that you cannot see the food beneath it

Now, of course, I give her credit for eating fruit. More power to her. But she’d still rather eat her weight in bacon instead (with the exception of fresh summer strawberries). Also, she occasionally has good taste in cheese and likes yogurt. But as you might notice, the emphasis is on grease/salt/sweets and there is nary a vegetable to be found except for the corn, which is available for only a month or two during the year.

I get that kids can be picky and might eschew veggies. But this is a child into whom we must struggle even to get “normal” kid foods sometimes.

She eats hot dogs, but without any bun or condiments. She will grudgingly eat a hamburger, but just the patty. She hates spaghetti.

This is a girl who recently dipped her French fries into her chocolate milk and declared it delicious, yet won’t eat pork cooked in a sweet mandarin orange sauce even though she likes both of those foods, too, individually.

We can’t get tacos in her. Or sandwiches (except for jelly sandwiches). A banana chocolate chip muffin is acceptable, but rarely is blueberry, and never is a cinnamon-crusted one, much less anything that trends toward pretending to be healthy. She professed to like scrambled eggs for a while but I don’t think she really ever liked then, and I suspect they were just an excuse to have something on which to pour salt so that she can hasten her arrival at gross hypertension before she reaches college, because she always picked at them and dawdled when eating them. She’ll eat pancakes, but mostly to get the maple syrup, which she will try to scoop up as often as possible while avoiding the pancakes.

This is a girl so stubborn about eating that if you give her a meal she doesn’t want to eat, she will feign being full or ill and go to bed starving rather than eat a single bite.

It’s maddening.

And to top it all off, if you give her food she adores, she’ll beg to eat it in the living room while watching TV rather than sit with her family.

So many parents wish their kids wouldn’t eat them out of house and home.


I’d give my left nut for her to make us go broke buying her organic zucchini, Brussels spouts, mixed greens, broccoli and green beans.

But for now I’ll settle for her eating her hotdog with a bun or shoving some spaghetti in her craw.