The Importance of Lying About Food

When I was a kid, I was a little shit. Not all the time, of course. Maybe not even for a majority of the time. But for the times I remember, and I remember them well because they’re often the times my family remembers well enough to talk about years and years later, I was definitely a little shit.

A perfect example of my childhood jerkiness was my preference for baked chicken. Why, that’s not so horrible, you may be thinking. No, it’s not. And it’s not even horrible that I truly loved the baked chicken my parent’s friend Marcie made when we went to her family’s house for dinner. The horribleness was when I insisted that I ONLY would eat Marcie’s baked chicken, not my mother’s. Still, not so out of the norm, right? Except for the fact that Marcie’s baked chicken WAS my mother’s baked chicken straight from HER recipe box. It tasted exactly the same with all the same ingredients and yet there I would sit at our dining room table, cross my arms and proclaim that my mother’s baked chicken wasn’t as good as Marcie’s, which again, WAS my mother’s, and therefore I would not be eating it. Yep, I was a little shit.

Somehow, instead of throwing that baked chicken on my head, my parents instead decided on a different tack. My mother would come out of the kitchen with the baked chicken and declare that we were having “Marcie’s baked chicken” for dinner. We, the Gordons, would pretend to be the Goelmans. My sister, Debi, would pretend she was Marcie’s daughter, Debbie (yes, they were both Jewish daughters named in the 1970’s, how’d you guess?). And I would be mollified enough to eat Marcie’s baked chicken. Which was really my mother’s, twice over.

I cringe thinking back on what my parents went through to get me to eat a healthy homemade dish, but I realize it’s not so very different with what I go through with my own children. For instance, my son doesn’t eat many vegetables. Never has and despite my following many instructions of many “How to Get Your Child to Eat Vegetables!” blog posts, it just didn’t happen. But one time we were at a party with him and those mini quiches from Costco, baked in the oven, were served. Because my son couldn’t say ‘quiche’ I told him they were ‘egg pies’ and to come try one. My husband blew on one and gingerly put it to our son’s lips as our son made a face. Until he took a bite. And his eyes opened wide with the realization that such manna from heaven existed. And he also must have come to the conclusion that he must eat all that manna at once because he downed those little suckers like nobody’s business. I couldn’t even look the hostess in the eyes when I saw how little she had left after his rampage. But he was full and happy and when you have a picky eater any new food they will digest is a time to feel good.

Later that week I decided to be the genius mother I was always meant to be and made a regular size quiche with bits of broccoli sprinkled throughout. I told my son we were having egg pie and his face immediately brightened until he rushed to the kitchen table. Where he did not see his precious mini quiches but instead an apparently gross and offensive looking big thing that he wanted nothing to do with, ever.

As dismayed as I was over my failed attempt at taking over Goop’s empire through my one quiche attempt, it didn’t compare to my husband’s dismay when he came home that night with a huge box of frozen mini quiches from Costco.

“These were the last ones in their freezer,” he said, and he and I knew what all Costco shoppers know to be true. Costco giveth and Costco taketh away. It perhaps was for the best as frozen mini quiches are not the healthiest of all food, but I knew it would be difficult to ration the quiches over time.

I gave my son about four of them with other food the next day for lunch. He quickly devoured them and refused to eat anything else on his plate. “Pie?” he asked hopefully. “More pie?” I swear, if he had only seen Oliver Twist he would have added in a “Please, Sir?”

“No more for today,” I said, resolving to stand firm. It was pretty difficult as the rest of the day was filled with pleadings for more pie. But we got through to the next day when he asked for pie for breakfast. I explained he could only have four for the whole day and he replied “Pie now. Pleeeeeeease, Mommy. Pie now!” Another four were made and eaten quickly.

It went on like that for a while as the supply dwindled. One morning he caught me before I had prepared his breakfast, begging for pie. I heated four up in the microwave but realized they were too hot to eat. As any parent knows, when your kid sees something they want to eat, they want to eat it NOW. I told him to go to his seat and began to break the mini quiches apart into a bowl to help cool them off. When I set it down before him he looked disappointed.

“It’s the pie,” I assured him. “It’s broken up but it tastes the same.”

With some hesitation, he picked up his fork and took a taste. Luckily he agreed that the taste of a broken quiche was the same as a whole one. Watching him eat, I had a thought. A thought that made me think I just might still be in the running for genius mom of the year.

While my son napped, I made another broccoli quiche and broke up some pieces into a bowl while hiding the rest in the fridge. A little while later he woke up and I asked if he wanted some pie for a snack. His eyes lit up and he raced to his kitchen table seat. I placed the bowl before him. He looked at it suspiciously.

“Little pie?” he asked.

“Yes,” I replied with as straight a face as I could muster. “Just broken up.”

He took a small bite and made a face. I sighed, annoyed to be stuck with eating another whole quiche by myself. But then he lifted his fork and took another. And another until the bowl was mostly empty.

“Yummy?” I asked. He smiled, nodded his head and went off to play. I did a very embarrassing dance in the kitchen.

So yes, I lied. But my son ate a healthy quiche and broccoli so I’m pretty sure it evens out.

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26 thoughts on “The Importance of Lying About Food

  1. My oldest was actually great until he hit about 6. Not sure where we went off the rails, but at daycare when he was really little he’d eat bananas and sausage and oatmeal…tons of stuff. I really don’t know what happened. It must be karma, because I was super picky as a kid too. What I do know is that I got less picky when I started going to dinner at my friend’s houses, because I had to eat what I was served. So maybe that’ll happen for my kids too. Except they’ll come home and it’ll be like you and Marcie’s baked chicken casserole–they’ll tell me mine’s not as good as so-and-so’s mom’s and I’ll just be like, “Screw it” and just drink my wine in resignation!

  2. Hopefully your son will get back to his pre-6 appetite soon! I would love if my son ate oatmeal. Maybe I should try having him eat at a friend’s house & see if he adds to his list of foods. But yeah, if he tells me he only likes the food at someone else’s house it would require some wine drinking!

  3. Hahaha! You are definitely a genius mother and don’t let anyone else tell you different ๐Ÿ˜ my grandmother always said ‘your kids will do to you what you did to your mother’, in which case I probably puked all over my mother ALL THE TIME. What can I say, karma is probably a wronged mother

  4. Great story! My nephews were picky eaters and their mom often brought PBJs when visiting. Me, the Hub and Kids are all foodies in our house so no pickiness to deal with, lucky us. One visit, I had to interview several ethnic restaurant owners who were collectively opening a global market in the Twin Cities. I was writing for a foodie magazine, and I figured my nephews would gladly stay behind. Turns out everyone wanted to go with me. So with seven kids, I went to 5 interviews that included food sampling. I told my nephews that it was “not lunch,” just tasting. You can not believe how much tasting they did that day! It was as if I brought locusts with me on my food tour. The restauranteurs were amazingly gracious especially when I’d say, “They’re usually picky eaters and only eat PBJs.” Somehow the phrase “just tasting” opened up the world to them. You never know!

  5. Ooh, that’s a great idea! Sometimes I feel like they get a mini ‘tasting’ when we take them to costco with all the samples. Btw – I am so jealous you got to write for a foodie magazine!

  6. Brilliant, Ariel! I love how you two wrongs (hot mini quiches, big disgusting quiche), broken up, make a right – and the way that mirrors what your mother had to do to get you to eat her baked chicken. Some family stuff you just can’t make up.

  7. Kim-Lee (Your Writing Lady) says:

    Lol! Children are a piece of work, but it’s awesome when you figure out how to get around their little walls.

  8. Reblogged this on Red Said What? and commented:
    Guest bloggers put it out there:

    HOW TO RAISE BENEVOLENT DICTATORS SAID WHAT?…โ€œThe Importance of Lying About Foodโ€

    I recently read an article that appeared on The Mid and Huffington Post Parents called, โ€œSix Words That Will End Picky Eating.โ€ The author offered a sensible approach to reigning in the habits of sensitive eaters. I was pleased to learn that I was on the right track with my child and his persnickety palate.

    Later the same day, I read the below article, โ€œThe Importance of Lying about Foodโ€ and I thought, now thatโ€™s more like it.

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