Turning the Tables

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 September, 2012, 10:08am

I fear I may have put my children off their food for life. I didn't even have to cook anything; I just read out some dish names from a cookbook.

This game started on a family visit to a restaurant when, much to the children's dismay, I ordered and ate some snails.

After that, any time I wanted to amuse myself by seeing the grossed out expression on their faces, I told them we would be eating the French delicacy. Then one day I picked up a Middle Eastern cookbook and read out what we might be having for dinner.

To be fair, parts of Claudia Roden's New Book of Middle Eastern Food do read like a medieval apothecary's almanac.

Brains sofrito, I read to them, can be made with the brain of a lamb or a calf. "Ugh!" Cow's tongue needs to be boiled for an hour before peeling, I tell them. "What, the actual tongue, daddy? Ugh!"

I doubt that my younger children have eaten any liver yet. Why they are so disgusted by the idea of cow's liver marinated in vinegar before pan-frying is beyond me.

Describing the bird's tongues with meat stew may have been a step too far. Actually, this is a pasta dish made with a type of very small noodle said to resemble a bird's tongue. I'm still not sure the children believe me but the nightmares seem to have stopped.

The children are almost as grossed out by adult food as I am by what they consider "yummy". In their ideal restaurant the waiter would be asking if they wished to pair the ketchup sandwich with a vertical of Sprite or Coca-Cola.

It's still easy to horrify them, though. I just read from an Indonesian cookbook. "Arrange the hearts on a skewer before grilling."

"What is tripe, daddy?" they ask. So I tell them about the inside of a cow's tummy - their mother's favourite.

Here's a French recipe. "Do you want to see a picture of rabbit stew?"

And people wonder why children are fussy.