I still remember how funny I thought it was at the time.
We were on vacation in Portugal visiting my grandparents, aunts and uncles. We sat down to dinner with my mother’s sister and her family. The first course served was a hearty tomato soup, and in it you could (barely) notice some finely minced onion. Now, I couldn’t tell you about any other part of this specific meal. In my defense I believe I was all of nine years old at the time. But, the soup I will always remember. Why?
I watched my oldest brother, while he was chatting with one of my cousins, slowly scoop out every last bit of minced onion that he found in that soup. As he scooped it from the bowl, he would place it on the edge of his dinner plate. It fascinated me like nothing else that night.
In later years I came to find out that when my brother was a child, my father had forced onions on him, so much so that he developed an aversion to them. My wife is another one, though for her it’s cucumbers and the “offending” adult was her babysitter. There’s always someone to blame, isn’t there?
At some point in our lives, whether for our own good or simply for the stubbornness of our caretakers, we have been forced to eat things that we didn’t necessarily want to. “You need to eat everything! You need to like different things!” While I don’t disagree with this train of thought (we should be as open-minded as possible when it comes to food), we should stop and think if we aren’t hindering a genuine love of certain foods by forcing them on others.
For some, it’s possible to eventually find a way to enjoy these items, recovering from our “childhood food trauma”. My wife is an example of that. While she won’t be having slices of cucumber with a little sprinkle of salt when the warm weather hits, she can enjoy it when it’s julienned in her sushi. For others, though, they can never go back. For my brother, it’s a lost cause. To this day he won’t eat onions.
As a father of a four-month old baby girl, I’m starting to think about what my daughter will be eating as she grows up (she just had rice cereal for the first time this past weekend). I want her to eat well, and I want her to be adventurous and willing to try new things! So, I will fight the instinct to force something on her. Does that mean she’s going to like everything? Not at all! But at least it will guarantee one thing: she won’t be able to look back and blame her parents.