Thursday, July 2, 2009

Hungry Monkey

I recently joined a Foodie Book Club.

For June we read the book Hungry Monkey. I know the title of the post gives it all away.

Its about food writer/restaurant reviewer Matthew Amster-Burton and his daughter Iris. Its the record of his drive and attempts for his daughter to enjoy food as much as he does. I really enjoyed the book. I have a picky eater on my hands with my oldest son, and it was entertaining and nice to see that now all kids bawk at the idea of most foods placed on the table. I kept reading some of the authors one-liners to my husband cause he kept asking why I was giggling.
Here are my answers. The question can be found at the above link.

1. Both the author and myself had some pre-conceieved notions about picky eaters. Did the book change any views you may have had or (for those of you who are parents) reinforce what you already knew to be true from experience?

I remember clearly always saying that I didn't want food to really be an issue in my house. I fully thought that I would be able to make meals and my kids would eat them. We did really well for the first year (6 months to 18 months) and then the pickiness started to show with my oldest. Food became an issue and it started to really affect me and over time I realized that this too will pass. I grew up hating some veg and as an adult I love them. Sometimes it all depends on how it was cooked and served.

2. The author confesses that he was, in fact, a very picky eater as a child, but turned out to be an avid food lover. Most of you reading this are probably adventerous eaters; is this something that you came to on your own, or did your parents nudge you in that direction? Do you think being a "food lover" is innate or learned?

I fully believed its learned. I'm 27 and I'm still having issues with some foods. I hate the texture of most seafood. Sushi, the nori makes me gag. I'm taking way more chances now than I did growing up but than again maybe thats because growing up we were a steak and mashed pototoes family. If we go out for dinner, for say Thai, my mom gets the most american/canadian style food item on the menu. Its also said that it takes upwards of 20 times of putting a new food infront of some kids for them to be willing to try it.

3. The author describes being forced to try sushi as a kid and almost throwing up, but trying it again in college and loving it. He credits this to the fact that the secong he tried it, he expected to like it. Do you agree? Can you think of a food that you probably liked because you expected to like it, or anything you didn't like in spite of thinking you would?

I competely agree. There are many things in life, food being the one of the main ones, that if you think your not going to like it you won't. If you don't have an open mind to trying out things then of course your palate is going to be limited because you haven't pushed yourself to try. Food and eating is about way more than taste and its a visual experience first. If you don't like the looks of things then usually you've convinced yourself its going to taste bad as well.

4. Not every family can spend the time and money the author does to introduce his daughter to so many foods. What can working parents or parents with less means do to bring cooking and diverse foods into the children's lives? Or do you feel this is even important?

This is really important. You spend your kid's childhood showing him/her the world and the wonders it holds. Food is one of them. I still struggle as to how to share this passion with my children since they are young themselves (2 and 4). But introducing them to things doesn't have to be some of the fancy or exotic foods Matthew brought home. My kids are thrilled to roll out cookie dough, to help load the slow cooker. Just asking them to help pick a vegtable from the market or the grocery store could make them more likely to try something new (we're still working on this one at home).

5. Food obviously plays a huge role in the Amster-Burton household. What role does food have in your household? Do you feel that kids need to know "where food comes from" and participate in food preparation, or is it enought just to make sure they're eating resonably healthy foods?

I do think its important that kids know where food comes from. I like the fact that my 4 year old knows that beef comes from cows, like you see in the fields, flour comes from wheat. Children are very curious by nature and I fully believe in helping my kids learn as much as their curiosity needs. We've tried dragonfruit that we've seen at the grocery store cause my kids were questioning it, they were not huge fans of it, but they were initally eager to try. My children love Christmas time because I go nuts with baking. Rolling out the sugar cookies is something they battle over. Even though my oldest is a picky eater hes still curious about food things, hopefully like the author this will mean he has a good chance of being a avid food lover as he gets older.

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