My child has become the pickiest of eaters, defiantly shaking her head and shouting "No!" at most meal times. I have to distract her with song, coloring books, dance numbers and good old fashioned lies (Look! Bear loves this macaroni!) just to jam any form of nutrition into her mouth. I find this sad for a host of reasons, chief among among them is that I'm a pretty awesome cook.
I thought feeding my child would be easy. It would be a natural extension of my feeding her via umbilical cord and boob to a tantalizing table of treats. Bean would be won over my braised beef cheeks. She would swoon over my apple torte and don't even get me started on how much been would love my braised chicken and prunes. This was my fantasy. The same Mama fantasy that I had pre-child in which Bean never watched TV and we also finger painted together daily to stimulate her creativity. I've realized three things now that I'm a seasoned mother of a toddler. Sesame Street provides 45 glorious minutes where I can do anything I want (shower, dishes, read NYTimes or Suri's Burn Book). Finger painting with a toddler is the worst idea ever unless you like cleaning paint from the inside of said toddler's ear. Toddlers are your worst food critic. Toddlers don't like anything, except of course all the foods you swore that you'd never feed them; baloney, chicken nuggets, french fries, hot dogs.
I ate a lot of bologny as a kid. I think I ate so much that I smelled like it. Do you remember that smell? Weird meat smell mixed with allspice and clove. I remember going to the local butcher with my mom and she would pick me up and place me on the counter and while the butcher got her order together, the big burly German man with a handlebar mustache would give me one slice of baloney to eat. It was easily my favorite errand to do with my mom and I remember being genuinely upset when I was deemed too big for this practice and I had to wait to get home for my baloney slice. Oh the horror!
There is an old-timey German butcher by our apartment. The place is decorated with beer steins and sausages hang from the ceiling. Brightly colored meats in aspics and various kinds of bacon line the meat case. The butchers greet customers like old friends and always stop for a conversation. I brought Bean in to do my shopping and a butcher with a set of mutton chop whiskers that would make any Williamsburg hipster jealous asked me if Bean would like some baloney. I said "Thank you" and waited for Bean to refuse it and throw it on the floor as she does with everything else that I giver her to eat. She took the baloney in both hands, delicately eating it. She flapped it in the air and then very dramatically took a giant bite from it. She ate the whole thing and then did the sign for "More." I almost fell over.
Was Bean's hunger strike over? Did I finally something that I could consistently feed her? I immediately bought some baloney and attempted to give it to her for dinner. Bean slapped it on the table and carved into the soft meaty center with her pointer finger. She then sucked on her baloney-covered pointer finger and then dismissively threw the rest of it to the floor.
That's my girl!