“Mommy, can you take the leaves off?”
My mother calls this ‘Grandma’s revenge’: I drove her crazy with my picky eating as a child, and now I’m raising a picky eater of my own. Lucia is just shy of five, and we’re at our favorite pizzeria, Philadelphia’s Pizza Brain, where my daughter loves the plain “Jane” slice—minus the basil leaves. She’s not sure about the oregano either. I remember inspecting my food for green specks just the way she does.
It took me until my twenties to recover from picky eating, so I have to wonder: is she doomed to the same fate? What can we as parents do to expand the culinary horizons of a person who only eats about five foods? It’s normal for preschoolers to be picky, and our pediatrician’s advice is not to push: as long as she’s eating, she’ll be fine. She’ll grow out of it. Medically, experts agree that this sort of picky eating isn’t a huge problem; socially, though, it can get awkward as children grow older. I remember dreading meals at friends’ houses, where the food might be unfamiliar, and my mother loves to tell the story of me eating a peanut butter sandwich at Thanksgiving dinner. Can we at least spare my daughter that?