Opinion » Maxed Out

Maxed Out

Gustatorial discoveries at Dusty’s



By G.D. Maxwell

I have a theory about children. I probably have a theory because I don’t have a child. If I had a child, I wouldn’t need a theory, I’d already have an experiment in progress. But falling short in the procreation department, I’ll stick with theories.

My theory is this: No child under the age of 16 should ever be fed anything they don’t want to eat. And under no circumstances should they be fed anything more exquisite than hot dogs, pizza, tater tots and macaroni and cheese, although the mac ’n’ cheese itself may be much more exquisite than Kraft Dinner.

Of course, I also have a theory that kids should be packed off to boarding school but that’s a different column.

There are fundamentally sound reasons supporting this theory. For starters, while children’s palates are finely-honed enough to discriminate between, say, red and yellow Smarties or gummi worms as opposed to gummi toes, their nascent tastebuds don’t really register the difference between a hamburger and filet mignon. So any parent forcing their kid to eat something more sublime than a Fun Meal (sic) is either wasting time and money, torturing their child or shamelessly social climbing. Why bother?

Besides, just suppose you have a mutant – gifted – child. Suppose the little squirt actually develops a taste for grilled lobster tail sauced in a reduction of herb-infused fish fumet and rare sturgeon roe. What an insufferable little monster he or she is going to be next time you stop at White Spot for a quick nosh. Introducing kids to food like that is an act of parental over-reaching that can only lead to no good... or possibly sushi day at school.

Kids should ‘discover’ food completely by accident. Or at least driven by their own curiosity led, in turn, by their sensitive little noses. Or is that just the way Zippy the Dog does it? No, it works for children too.

The benefits of this theory are manifold. First off, you save a wad on food costs. Second, the words ‘meal planning’ disappear from your vocabulary. Third, you don’t wind up raising some weird little Poindexter who doesn’t fit in with the rest of his taste-challenged cohorts.

And finally, maybe even most importantly, the thrill of serendipitous discovery – at whatever age – is the fuel of creativity. Forcing a kid to eat kidneys is just money in the bank for some shrink 20 years down the road. Letting him ‘discover’ he’s eating kidneys in a funky pub in Munich because he’s hungover after two days of drinking high-octane beer at Oktoberfest and doesn’t know the German word for kidney, well baby, that’s an adventure.