Stressless Dining with Children

I suppose all of us, as we were growing up, had likes and severe dislikes of food. For me, breakfast was a non-issue, cereal. Who doesn’t like surgery bowls of corn flakes, especially if you had a banana. Lunch, a no brainer, bologna sandwich. My bologna has a first name it’s Oscar, my bologna has a second name it’s Meyer…

But supper was a different animal. It could be anything, and this is when we started skating on thin ice and the battles over picky eating began and were waged. This was one meal I remember:

Griebenschmalz (rendered pork fat with apples and onions)
Radishes
Green Onion
Rye Bread

german-griebenschmalz-recipe1
Griebenschmalz on Rye Bread

Today I would eat this in a New York minute. But back then NOPE!

I spent all summers with my German grandparents in a cottage in the woods, on a deep blue lake. But I have to emphasize ethnic origin, “German!” My lovely grandparents cooked up some strange stuff. Most of it was really good but when it was bad it was awful. My Grandpa was a frugal man and quiet disciplinarian. There was never a threat on his part and never histrionics on the part of his grandchildren, however, no negotiations.

Very simply put: you don’t want to eat it OK, but you eat nothing until the next meal. Next meal was the same food on the same plate that we didn’t eat the first time. Needless to say, this went on and on, with no drama, ad infinitum until your plate was clean. Only then were we allowed to jump in with the rest of the family and start eating again. All the time hoping and praying it wasn’t going to be more weird nasty stuff.

With James we were a bit more forgiving. He always had to try one bite. If he didn’t like it OK. But once again there was no drama or temper tantrums. Supper was always pleasant and civil.

Supper shouldn’t be a war zone or a place for children to act out. They should look forward to spending time at the table with people they love. And after a long day of work the adults should be allowed peace and quiet.

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