I'm going to preface this rant by stating that I really love Bon Appetite Magazine. They have informative and dynamic articles about food issues, nice photography and some lovely, super simple recipes that I've used myself. They even got me loving beets, which the Virgin Mary could not have accomplished even if she had been holding hands with Bobby Flay in a prayer circle.
But this month's issue has an article that underscores my belief about how the food establishment often views kids and food. The article is called "Family Affair" and pictures a nice group of neighborhood families who get together every week on a rotating basis and cook great food. The article shows how the recipes are simple enough to start and stop while nine kids are running in and out of the kitchen and can endure sitting on the table a little too long. They even do an ice cream sundae bar at the end - creative and fun for everyone! Great! They look like nice people having a good time together. I'm with them so far.
They lose me only when they feed their kids mac and cheese before the meal starts and then sit down to a lovely dinner of herb-stuffed leg of lamb, a side of warm new potatoes, cherry tomatoes and Green beans with Fresh basil and a roasted eggplant and red bell pepper salad with frisee and feta. They not only make a meal their kids aren't a part of, they don't even give us a slamming mac and cheese recipe - The copy reads, "Let the kids eat mac and cheese; the grown-ups get herb-stuffed leg of lamb and great sides (some nice wines, too)".
Kudos to them for getting everyone together every week, but shouldn't Bon Appetite be supporting the education of children's palettes and helping readers include their children in a meal? In her editorial in the March 2007 issue of Gourmet, Ruth Reichl says that, "...if little Suzy and Sam get applesauce instead of salad and naked pasta in place of meat sauce, the lesson is...'You won't like what we're eating." She reminds us that what children like is mostly learned from us and our culture - and she derides children's menus, as I do. Queen Ruth says that by separating children from our meal, we are "...teaching them to stick with the tried and true instead of encouraging them to dare to taste the new." Hallelujah Ruth! Love you!
Note to the editors at Bon Appetite- Get your head out of the crock pot! We should be inviting kids to the table and making it fun for them to explore new tastes. It is one of life's sweet adventures and we should all be doing it together, not banishing the kids to the living room so we can eat "the good meal" in peace. Those families in the article are missing out and Bon Appetite got it all wrong.