Part of my favorite summer meal – chicken & sweet potato salad. It includes avocado, prosciutto & a yogurt based dressing.
Warm or cold, I think it is the most delicious thing ever. I could eat it every day.
My kids on the other hand would prefer I forget it exists.
They hate just about everything in it. They will eat the chicken. They will grudgingly chomp their way through the sweet potato. They will not eat the avocado & prosciutto. When they are done eating what they will eat their plates are full of divided piles of food – avocado over there, sweet potatoes next to them, but not mixed in and prosciutto over in a heap by itself.
It reminds me of when I used to eat my mom’s ‘chili’. I call it ‘chili’ because that’s what she called it, though no one who has ever had real chili would ever call it chili. It consists of ground beef, some tomato paste, some tomato sauce, a can of kidney beans and the merest whisper of garlic powder. You brown the ground beef then add the rest and let it simmer until the beans are hot.
I loathed the stuff.
Actually I loathed the beans. As I remember, it the tomato-y ground beef was ok. I piled it on a slice of white bread and ate it like a flavorless sloppy joe.
My mom made it at least once a month all through the 70’s and it continued to appear randomly until I left for college. I’m not sure if she finally got tired of the complaints (my brother hated it too) or she found something she preferred to make more. It just sort of faded out of the menu rotation at some point.
Most of my dinner table memories involve this ‘chili’ dish. I can see myself sitting at the round orange table with the orange placemats, eating off the white with golden brown trim Corning wear plates. The slices of Wonderbread, the margarine tub, the side dish of iceberg lettuce salad with Italian dressing and the pile of hated ‘chili’ in front of me.
I gagged on the beans. To this day I cannot eat canned beans. Their texture reminds me of chucky vomit.
Eventually, after a couple years of listening to me whine & complain about this meal, my dad made what he thought was a deal he could not lose:
If I picked every single bean out of the chili I could just eat the meat. But I had to pick out every last one of the beans on my plate. If I left any beans I had to eat it all. If I got any meat in with the beans I had to eat it all. And I could not use my fingers.
I guess he thought since he’d never have the patience for such an undertaking I wouldn’t either.
But he was wrong.
He totally underestimated just how much I detested those beans.
The first time it took me most of supper to pick them all out, the second time it took slightly less. By about the fourth time I had a rhythm going and after that I was able to speedily wield my fork, separating each individual bean from the whole and move it off to one side, with no meat clinging to ruin it. It became something of a game to me, timing myself to see if I could beat my last effort.
It drove both my parents nuts to watch me do it, but a deal is a deal and there is no going back on it just because it didn’t end the way you’d hoped.
I don’t make those sorts of bargains with my sons. I know all to well what a child can do when faced with a food they don’t like.
I used to slice Brussels sprouts in half and swallow them whole in an attempt to taste as little of them as possible. And once you know you are capable of that, you don’t underestimate anyone else’s ability to avoid foods they hate.
Knowing they loathe something I love, I adapt it to them. I set aside some chicken & sweet potatoes from the rest & serve it to them plain & not mixed together. This way we are both happy. They can avoid the dreaded avocados & prosciutto and I get more avocados & prosciutto for me.
Somehow I don’t think this would have worked for my parents.
Judging by what they eat now, I don’t think they liked canned kidney beans either.