When you have small children your food world shrinks. Children’s tastes tend to be for the simpler, sometimes blander dishes, certainly less spicy. Our policy has been to eat as a family most of the time, and everyone gets the same thing. Sure, we’d sometimes feed the kids earlier and then have a separate dinner ourselves which had some kick, but I found that we’d be having the same things over and over.
That doesn’t mean we ate badly, though, far from it. I know some parents with children who have teenagers that eat french fries and dry pasta exclusively – where do they get their nutrients from? My son was eating sushi before he could talk – I didn’t serve it to him, he took it off my plate when he was a toddler and just ate it, then took the rest of mine – so I knew we were going to be okay. The thing is small children have their favorites and don’t want to stray too far. For some reason he’d eat sushi, but sauces were out – he didn’t try gravy until he was nine. Chili was on plates often, as was chicken in many forms, any roast meat, braised dishes, and any form of potato you choose. Vegetables were never a problem either, carrots, broccoli, even brussels sprouts would be eaten with minimal complaints.
So what I am I complaining about? Many parents would consider that a dream, but I missed curries and other spicy foods. There’s a huge variety from all over the world and I love them all: Thai, Indian in its many styles, Vietnamese, Japanese, and Caribbean. The only times I’d get those were those rare times my wife and I would go out or make a separate meal. I wanted to get more bold flavors in, and more spice, like Tex-Mex. I also wanted to bring in more ‘adult’ ingredients, like wine and saffron. If my kids saw a shallot they may get it in their heads it’s not to their liking.
Then I made my take on enchiladas mole. I was leery about this, my previous experiments into Mexican had not been wild hits, so when I put it on the table I had plenty of other things too in case they turned their noses up at it, which I expected to happen, but I was determined to bring in more variety.
The entire tray was gone in no time. The kids even had seconds, which they rarely do, and I saw that things were changing. Since then I’ve been steadily expanding the repertoire, with Thai curries, more noodle dishes, and more sophisticated flavors. My wife made her Chicken Saag, and the kids loved it! Last night I made my take on chicken riesling, and not my son got extra sauce and told me that it was on par with baked chicken. From him that’s high praise.
Next up: paella!