Friday, June 16, 2006

Wretched Excess

Recently I wrote about the state of the American kitchen: today I am introducing someone who cares about cooking. Way too much. Meet Annabel Karmel.*

First you should know this. I paid close attention to the food my children ate. I wrote a letter to Gerbers complaining about their use of sodium in baby food. We never even had coke or soft drinks in the house. McDonalds? Maybe once or twice a year, under extenuating circumstances. My friend Sally, a nutritionist, and I spent hours discussing what we fed our children. Elizabeth still tells the story of being invited home with a new friend and being given Oreo cookies as an after school snack. Up until then she had thought it was written in the Ten Commandments and the Constitution that after school snacks were to consist of carrot and celery sticks with a chaser of sliced apples. (She started going home with Jenny regularly.)

So I applaud Ms. Karmel for a book on nutritious meals for children. Sticky barbecue drumsticks and cheesy pasta stars sound just right, but when we move on to sweet potato and carrot soup with ginger and orange, and salmon teriyaki with noodles and bean sprouts, I begin to have doubts. If you have a child-centered household, I suppose you might as well have a child-centered kitchen, but what’s wrong with cooking for the grown-ups and setting aside a small portion with fewer spices and intense flavors for the little guys.

When she gets to presentation she really loses me. I became quite a fan of Top Chef this past season and loved to watch the chefs plating their food and using a squeeze bottle to squirt the plates with brown and green goop (what is that stuff anyway?) so that the whole thing looked like a Jackson Pollock painting. They have nothing on Ms. Karmel, who can make faces out of leeks and peas (eyes), halved baby sweet corn (nose), tomato (mouth), carrot strips (hair) and green beans (mustache) all to decorate a mini chicken and potato pie .

For anyone who is interested, here’s my creed. You put a kid in bed and say “Goodnight” and you put food in front of a child and say “Here’s your dinner.” I’ve done my share of flying airplanes into hangars, but this over the top approach to food seems like an invitation to disaster. . It assumes that a nutritious meal isn’t enough and that the natural process of eating has to be made more tempting. Can’t you see young Hunter out with a new girlfriend or a potential employer telling the waiter he can’t eat his cannelloni unless they look like they are sleeping under a blanket.

It’s wrong, people. Wrong. I raised a son to be 6’7”, and he never once had a chicken sausage disguised as a snail.

*First Meals, Annabel Karmel, Dorling Kindersley Limited.

1 comment:

amanti27 said...
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