“Food Fights: Your 2-Year-Old This Month” was the subject line of an email that landed in my inbox this week, courtesy of some website I signed up for when I was pregnant with Georgia and was subsequently too lazy/indifferent to unsubscribe from. According to the email, I should be butting heads nonstop with Georgia about what she will and will not eat and I should refrain from engaging in power struggles with her about it.
Except I’m not. Georgia ate a double helping of tofu-and-kale over noodles on Monday and last night scarfed down two bowls of meatball soup that was chockfull of cooked carrots and squash. “More carrots please!” she yelled, holding up her empty bowl. “I love carrots.”
Meanwhile Ruby, who should have grown out of her picky phase long ago, opted for plain noodles (hold the tofu, and for God’s sake, hold the kale) and drank only the broth of the soup, scorning both the meatballs and the veggies. She’ll eat some vegetables, just not cooked ones, and she likes some kinds of fruit, but overall, it is exhausting trying to keep track of what she deems acceptable for consumption. Her breakfast every morning is Toaster Strudel (cream cheese only) and milk, and her lunch every day is macaroni and cheese, some kind of fruit (she favors pears, plums, and a few select kinds of apples), yogurt (lemon YoKids only), and juice.
I think her pickiness stems largely from the fact that she had severe GERD through her baby and toddler years and only stopped medication for that when she was around 4 (and she still eats Tums Chews on occasion), but even if I understand it, it can be frustrating.
I am not at all a fussy eater myself – I love almost everything. There are some foods I can really take or leave: red peppers, mushrooms, raw oysters, pulled pork. I’ll eat them if they’re set in front of me, but I would avoid them if I were ordering off of a menu. The foods I absolutely can’t stand are:
- Most organ meats (I make an exception for sweetbreads)
That’s it, really. The last one, though, is damn near impossible to explain in this city. Errol Laborde takes it as a personal affront that I don’t like shrimp, and I have been known to claim an allergy just so people stop trying to force it on me in different guises. I have tried it fried (gross), boiled (gross), over grits (gross), barbecued (gross), mixed with pasta (gross), and covered in horseradish-spiked cocktail sauce (gross but the most palatable of the options). I just really don’t like shrimp. I like crawfish. I like lobster. I like crabmeat and scallops and oysters and almost all fish. I just can’t stand shrimp, and no, I don’t get it either. (Ruby, oddly enough, absolutely adores crawfish and is over-the-moon happy that crawfish boil season is here.)
But the other commonly hated foods – olives, bleu cheese, mayonnaise, eggplant, avocado, cilantro, brussels sprouts, beets, cottage cheese, turnips, okra, spinach, onions, tofu, coconut, asparagus – I love literally every single one of those foods. Georgia eats all of them, too. (The only time I have seen her reject food is when she deems it “too ‘picy!”) Ruby? She likes avocado, I guess. And coconut if it’s covered in chocolate.
Ruby is pretty much living proof that a child can survive for more than eight years on chicken nuggets. Georgia is living proof that not all toddlers are picky. And I am living proof that you can be a good New Orleanian even if you won’t eat one of the signature foods.
What can you not stomach? (And if it’s shrimp and you’re a born-and-bred New Orleans resident, please lend me some support!)