Three years ago, Little E started on solid foods and I embarked on a mission to create myself a kindred eater in my family. I'd suffered long enough tailoring the menu to suit first my husband's numerous aversions and then Big E's finicky palate. I was not going to let Little E grow up to be a sauce-on-the-side, make-mine-plain-kind of girl.
I skipped the little tubs of Gerber, which had clearly done nothing for Big E's palate, and instead spent hours steaming, blending and freezing my own recipes. She ate mashed sweet potatoes spiked with cumin, ginger peach puree, pumpkin with a dash of cinnamon, chicken-mango whip...and she liked them all. My heart swelled when she moved onto finger foods like bites of mango-brie quesadilla and tiny handfuls of rice vermicelli and Vietnamese spring roll. Big E's fascination with my shoe wardrobe had assured me that I had a shopping partner in the making, and finally I had hope of a culinary partner in crime.
Somehow Little E's eating habits have veered off my carefully mapped course. At 3 1/2 she has decided that her favored cuisine is not Vietnamese or French or Italian or even American; it is Vending Machine. She eschews the spiced fruits and exotic quesadillas of her baby- and toddlerhood in favor of pouched applesauce and cheez crackers. And it breaks my heart.
You might suspect that my preschool-aged daughter isn't the primary shopper in our house. You would be right, and I accept blame for her culinary regression...but not all of the blame. I would also point fingers at both my job, for occupying time that I might otherwise spend preparing and packing fresh and interesting lunches, and our daycare center, for the draconian measures it takes to remain certifiably devoid of any all potential traces of nut germs.
The convenience and provable nut-freeness of shelf stable cuisine has made it a staple in her lunchbox and, due to exhaustion and inattention, we have allowed it to creep onto our table. This has to stop, so I am attaching an addendum to the food promise that I have made my family. In addition to cutting out the fast food, I will endeavour to banish vending machine foods from our table. Sorry, Little E.
With luck, I will be successful and regain my eating sidekick. If not, I can take solace knowing that she'd be happily sated should she ever be forced to spend time in a bomb shelter or the waiting room at the Sears Automotive.