Thursday, June 12, 2008

Beware! Children Eating Scorpions!

That's children eating scorpions, not children-eating scorpions! So many great articles in yesterday's NYT Food section, but the one that caught my interest most was the dad writing about his two adventurous eaters (Scorpions for Breakfast, Snails for Dinner by Matthew Forney). He was trying to decide whether their culinary openness was related to where they lived (China), his and his wife's attitudes toward food, or some other cultural factor, like their Italian mother's insistence on real cheese at the table or her breastfeeding. All of these things play a part, I'm sure. But you don't have to move to China to encourage a little culinary adventure.

In addition to the scorpions in the breakfast bowl (I don't think I could stomach that!), the dad had many other anecdotes about preferring edamane to granola bars. Clearly there is some showboating here. It reminded me of a story about my son, when he was about 4 years old. We had just come home from Chinatown dim sum and he had bravely sampled many of the dishes including salt and pepper shrimp with the heads on. When we walked into the house, there was a large moth fluttering around the hallway. My son jumped up and down excitedly and yelled, "What's that?!" "Oh, it's a moth," we replied. He then asked, "Can we eat it?" He was completely serious. We laughed, of course. It was a sign of things to come.

When my daughter orders escargot from a restaurant, the servers routinely assume it is for me and misplace it on the table, even when she herself has ordered it. She knows why and just chuckles about it. Even in a French restaurant in Brooklyn, it seems inconceivable that a 9 year old would order snails. My youngest is 2.5 yrs old and has been making a very annoying habit of saying "I don't like this!" and pushing food off her plate. I am trying not to overreact and have to instruct the big kids not to bully her about it. My husband has "tricked" her at least once but saying, "Oh, you loved the mushrooms the last time. Do you want one?" "Yes, she said and ate it saying , "yummmm." Of course, she had spat it out the last time, but no matter. The older kids know they get serious cred with adults by being adventurous eaters. Gotta hope the little one catches on quick.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Ahh...Summer food

Image from

We are prematurely in a total summer mode here in Brooklyn, with an unseasonably early June heat wave. The only good news is that it's a great time to embrace summer food and the rituals of the summer table. For our family that means a lot of barbecue. Cooking outside saves the house from the heat and saves me from a lot of pots and pans to clean up. (Plus, my husband, our resident grillmaster is doing the cooking.)

Already this season, we've been grilled spatchcocked chicken, slow-roasted pork, and done smoked seafood, all on the Big Green Egg. (The Big Green Egg is a very special grill, a grail of sorts for serious BBQ mavens.) But any grill will do, and summer grilling can be as easy as throwing some dogs, burgers, or marinated chicken breasts on the fire. You can have a quick, easy and fun meal in no time.

Grilling out is often thought of as only a weekend activity. But grilling and eating outside during the week is a great option, if you have the space. It's a wonderful way to make everyday life feel a little more like summer vacation. Once you get the hang of starting a charcoal fire, or if you use gas, the grill can be up and running in about 20 minutes. It's a schedule that can fit easily into a weeknight meal. (Tip: Use a charcoal chimmny to get the coals started.) Plus, you save time on the clean up.

There is no better summer memory to create for you and your kids than a summers' night eating outside, finished off with watermelon or ice pops. Maybe you'll be lucky and even get some fireflies (aka lighting bugs) to spark the night.

Links and Ideas:
Secrets of Good Grilled Foods, from Real Simple
Best Grilled Food Recipes, from How Stuff Works
Frozen Delights, easy homemade ice pops from Cookie Magazine
Grilled & Ready, under Good Food Fast section of