Who Cares Which Parent Kids Look Like, What Matters Is Whose Food Preferences They Get
When I visited my husband’s bachelor apartment before we got married, a search of the kitchen cupboards and fridge turned up: peanut butter, jelly, Wonder Bread, cheese slices, a few cans of Chef Boyardee, and a freezer empty but for the vast quantity of frozen meat pizzas covering the bottom like a pepperoni-dotted tundra. I hurried out to the local grocery store and stocked up on fruit and vegetables to leave him with, but I didn’t know then that I was firing the first shot in our food-preferences war.
You see, I like spicy foods. Pass the curry, jalapenos, sriracha, chorizo … In fact, there aren’t very many foods I won’t eat, although I raw pineapple makes me gag and I make a moral stand against raw celery. (What’s the point of that stuff? It tastes terrible and it’s a negative caloric intake. If I wanted a workout, I’d rather go for a run than gnaw on a chunk of dirt-flavored cardboard.) But the mister has zero spice tolerance, and would rather I avoid cooking with a list of vegetables including, but not limited to, tomatoes, onions, sweet peppers, mushrooms, black beans, beets, cabbage, and radishes. Also known as, a few of my favorite things.
After eight years of marriage, we’ve pretty much reached a truce in this food fight, and admittedly, the terms are more favorable to my side than his. I’m free to order spicy food at restaurants or cook myself and the kids something rife with onions and bell peppers for lunch while he’s away at work. I can even sample the food on his plate if we go out to dinner, even when there’s nothing I ordered that he’s willing to touch with a ten-foot pole, let alone a fork. He’s even adapted to eating vegetables outside his traditional comfort zone: celeriac! Turnips! Rutabaga! And of course, he will eat all the raw celery that gets left behind on my plate. But now, our long-term truce is under threat from the outside: namely, from our kids.
At a year of age, the twins are under close surveillance from Mom and Dad alike for whose taste buds they inherited. So far, as very young children will do, they eat almost everything put in front of them (although what they ate one night might be rejected out of hand at lunch the next day, and vice versa). Chorizo? Sure! Spicy curry? Yup! Beets? Oh my god, yes, although they look like crazed serial killers after they’ve finished the meal. But as they complete the baby-toddler transition, we’re looking for their fairly fluid taste preferences to solidify. And if they align with Team Dad or Team Mom, that’s going to shake things up around here. Are they going to be asking for sausage-and-jalapeno pizza for their birthday some day? Is curry going to be on the menu more often? Am I finally going to have someone to share my sauerkraut with? Or (shudder) are we going to transform into a strictly meat-and-potatoes household?
I suppose it could be worse. Maybe the Venn diagram of meals my kids will eat will end up forming a weird, completely-non-overlapping circle with ours. Maybe they’ll want squid-wrapped raw celery and black beans on a bed of shredded raw pineapple. Or maybe my husband and I will both just have to expand our recipe-related realms of expertise …but I’m still hoping for two little spicy-food and sushi companions.