347. Just Try a Little

When I was a child, one of the memorable trips we took was to Nova Scotia. On the way there, my parents took me to a restaurant called The Gloucester House in Gloucester, Massachusetts. They wanted to have seafood, and they wanted their children to experience it, too. They thought of this experience as something special – a splurge. I think I may have approached the restaurant with a slightly open mind. Maybe not. I don’t remember.
But then I saw the menu. It was full of items I had never tried, and I
didn’t like food I’d never tried. I’d had fishsticks, but they didn’t have fishsticks. And then I looked at the bottom of the second page, and I saw what I wanted. This restaurant was great! They had my favorite food! I told my parents I knew what I wanted. No doubt about it. I’m sure my parents were hoping and maybe even expecting that I would order something that had been caught that day by those who go down to the sea in ships. But no. I ordered spaghetti.
I wasn’t sure to what degrees my parents were angry, dismayed, and/or amused. I don’t know how surprised they were. Was I predictable? I didn’t care. I just knew that the spaghetti tasted good – almost as good as the spaghetti we had at home. And it tasted familiar. Even though we were hundreds of miles away from the life I was used to – even though we were in a strange land where “Gloucester” was pronounced as if it were “Gloster,” there was still spaghetti, and it still tasted good.
Children like things that are different, and they like things that aren’t – just like adults. But as adults, sometimes we forget. It can be annoying to “know” how good something is and hear that our children are unwilling to try it. So maybe we make a deal: you can have your boring old food as your main course as long as you have a little bit of this delicious, new, and unusual food. Such a deal makes us feel as if we are educators; we feel as if we are preparing children for the marvelous diversity life has to offer them. That’s our perspective.
That probably isn’t their perspective. They probably see eating that little bit of yucky lobster Newburgh as the price they have to pay if they want to eat the yummy hamburger. And so they eat it. We don’t think they’re trying it with open minds, but they probably think they are. But to them, the lobster looks and tastes so gross, and the hamburger so good, that the open mind is just a formality. If the adults like the lobster so much, think the children, why are they making US eat it? Why don’t they eat it all themselves?
I don’t think I started liking any foods as a result of being forced to try a little. Nowadays, I like foods that I didn’t like as a child, and hot dogs, which used to be among my favorite foods, totally gross me out. I don’t think I’d even be willing to try a little bit of hot dog so I could have lots of my favorite foods.

Comments are closed.