Dear Dave

Wednesday 19 May 2010

Catering for everyone

Dear Dave,

Yeah, I know how you feel. With children in the house, trying to come up with a menu that keeps everyone happy can be difficult. The only way I think I could manage it would be to serve pizza and fish fingers every day (including for breakfast).

I used to dream of the day I could make one big vat of food, ladle it out onto five little plastic trays and then sit down for a traditional family meal in front of the TV. No fussing over individual dietary foibles, no cooking one meal for the kids and another for the adults, no having to wash up two or three sets of pots. I've given up on the whole idea, though. For starters, Sarah doesn't get home in time to eat with the kids most days. Rather than reheat the childrens' left-overs, I might as well make something fresh when she gets home. That way, we're not restricted to what the kids like. This is quite significant because Fraser won't eat anything with sauce and Marie won't eat anything she hasn't had before. Options that please everyone are limited.

Things have actually got a little more tricky in the last few days, thanks to a computer game called Harvest Moon which Lewis has been playing. In it, he gets to own a little patch of land, cultivate it, raise livestock and generally work hard in order to own a slightly bigger patch of land. I thought it would appeal to his latent farmer genes from my side of the family and help him understand his heritage. I expected him to learn the cardinal rules of agriculture:
  1. Nothing tastes right without a sprinkling of pesticide.
  2. Anything can be fixed with a combination of duct tape and binder twine.
  3. Never stand directly behind a cow. Ever.
This hasn't come to pass, however. In the game, the creatures are cute and fluffy. The sheep produce wool, the cows output milk and the chickens lay eggs. There's no mention of hotpot, steak or drumsticks. Having his own menagerie of farmyard animals has turned him vegetarian.

Eating bacon in the house has become something of an ordeal. It's much harder to enjoy it with a mournful eight-year-old looking on, sorrowfully muttering, "Poor pig..."

This now means there's rather a wide range of attitudes to meat in the family. Lewis is at one end of the scale but Sarah has already drastically cut down on her intake in order to reduce her carbon footprint. Marie, meanwhile, has never really liked meat much anyway. She'll eat sausages and the odd bit of sliced ham but that's about it. I, on the other hand, grew up on a cattle farm. I don't eat as much meat as I used to but I'm not going to say no if I'm offered something succulent - even if I once knew its name and used to watch it walk past the lounge window on a regular basis. Lastly, Fraser will eat pretty much any dead animal as long as it's roasted and I tell him it's chicken.

The chances of me finding anything that everyone in my family will eat actually seem to be going down. Often, I have to make five different variations of a meal. Otherwise, we'd end up living on nothing but fresh fruit, pizza and cheese sandwiches. (Although I should point out, Sarah's cheese sandwich would include salad, Fraser's would have the cheese on the outside and Marie's wouldn't have cheese at all. For myself, I'd be left with the crusts and whatever was in the fridge that needed using up. Yogurt butties, anyone?)

Never mind. At least everyone still eats fish fingers. Apparently they don't really count as meat...

Yours in a woman's world,



JenK said...

No bacon? Really? There would be rivers of tears in my house if someone turned down bacon. Everything is better with bacon.

We have a rule: if you don't eat what I put in front of you, you don't eat. I hate cooking too much to make more than one version of anything. I've yet to have a kid go to bed hungry, but I suspect my day will come. I'll probably end up with a vegetarian, a vegan, and a carnivore when they reach their teens, just to pay me back.

DadsDinner said...

Yep, it's only me and Sprog1 eating bacon these days.

But, boy, can we eat a lot... :-)