I like the satisfaction of preparing a meal; trying new recipes and cookbooks; and eating healthfully. So, why would I rather hide out on my computer seeing what’s going on with Facebook instead of actually cooking according to my meal plan most nights? I am frickin’ beat down from all the complaints.
This is a real photo of delicious homemade pasta with parm that he refused to try at all. xo
I don’t know what dinnertime looks like at your house, but we have three competing scenarios at mine.
REAL FOOD SUCCESS
After much trial and error (see below), RookieDad Alec and I have a few homemade go-to meals that most of us like (well, everyone but the three-year old): tamale pie, teriyaki salmon, chicken parmesan, or spaghetti and meatballs. If I’m on my game, I can do some of the prep before the witching hour or we team up in the kitchen on a weekend evening for a big cook. These are the good nights.
REAL FOOD FAIL
More often it seems, I try out a new recipe and at least one person is visibly disgusted. I made a homemade sweet potato and black bean stew tonight that was so ugly, my son shared, “When I need to taste something that looks like this, I just do it real quickly before I lose my nerve.” Uhh, thanks kid.
Last night, it was lasagna roll-ups that turned out rather crispy and weird. My husband ate quietly but shot me looks of, “Thanks for trying, babe, you’re the greatest, but could you not heat uncovered for so long next time?” as I wordlessly answered back, “Don’t worry, there won’t be a next time!”
When I just don’t have the energy or ingredients, I resort to the freezer. On nights when I serve (organic) waffles with peanut butter or (organic) chicken bits shaped like dinosaurs, I know the boys will eat without complaint. But *I* feel like a total loser. Where have all my clever shortcuts to preparing real food gone? Sure, I should cut myself some slack, but I should also be June Cleaver so eff the slack.
My friend Wendy just shared this eye-opening article by the Washington Post, Unearthed: How to get people to cook more? Get eaters to complain less. At least some of the blame is thrown back on the mega kid food industry. All I could think was “Yes, yes yes!”
Daniel Post Senning, co-author of the 18th edition of Emily Post’s Etiquette, suggested, “If you’re not participating in the process, you don’t always have standing to offer a critique,” he says. “Offer to participate in a meaningful way: planning and shopping, if not cooking.”
And even then, be careful. “The compliment sandwich — praise, critique, praise — would be appropriate. There’s always something you can thank someone for when they’ve worked on your behalf.” Also, “have a solution.” Don’t care for creamed spinach? Volunteer to try roasting cauliflower.
What you don’t do when someone — probably someone you love — has made a meal for you is gripe about the food at the table. Just don’t.
In an Amazon-fueled moment of hopefulness, I purchased a copy of The Little Brute Family inspired by this article. In the book, meals don’t get better than rocks and twigs until the family members show more gratitude. I hope the message rubs off on all of us.
I want cooking and eating to be a safe environment where we can all learn what we like and what we don’t without resorting to blowing raspberries.