Michael is now employing the “truth hurts so I’ll lie” method to handling new and different foods.
He says “I love it,” meaning “that was vile, but I get in trouble for being brutally honest about how disgusting certain foods are so I’ll say what I think you want to hear so you’ll leave me alone.”
For instance, last week his mom picked up some rice bread for him to try. This was the only bread she could find that didn’t have milk and/or soy in it.
After lovingly crafting a PB&J sandwich from this new bread, she handed it to Michael, who took an exploratory bite.
He made that face: the one that looks like he just licked something he thought was chocolate but it turned out to be a moray eel, but he’s too cool to allow a genuine emotion to spread across his visage.
“Well?” his mom asked, expectantly. “How is it?”
“I love it,” he said, on his fiftieth chew of the one bite, his nose wrinkled ever so slightly while he strained to hold his breath and to keep his tongue from actually contacting the masticated wad, lest he taste it.
“Great!” his mom said. “Finish that up then and we can go on our errands.”
“Uh, I’m done with it. I’ll just save it for later,” he said, putting it down. The “later” of which he speaks is no doubt coincident with the end of the Mayan calendar.
For several weeks now Michael had been pestering me to get Brussels sprouts for him to try. He happily eats broccoli and many other vegetables, so this wasn’t outside the realm of possibility. It’s just that Brussels sprouts are infamous as the nemesis of children’s palettes everywhere, throughout all recorded history. Legends have sprung up over tales of stubborn children sitting for days, staring at their plate of uneaten Brussels sprouts until their parents finally cave in or grow too old to fight.
So for him to actually request them was nothing short of a miracle in my mind. And I couldn’t help but be a little proud, since I actually like them myself.
However, I resisted the first few requests, having previous experience with children and their unusual culinary requests (miniature bananas, edible flowers, Mexican hot chocolate, etc.) that ended up shoved to the back of the refrigerator to become fungal substrates.
On his continued insistence, I eventually broke down and bought some.
I made eight of them. A simple recipe: clean them, boil them in salt water, serve warm.
He was so delighted to pack into this “little cabbage” the way he chows down on the “little trees” of broccoli.
I knew things weren’t going well when I saw him take an exploratory nibble and make that staring-straight-ahead, corners-of-the-mouth-curled-down-slightly sort of chewing face.
“Hmm… not so much?” I said.
“It’s good,” he said, unconvincingly.
“I don’t believe you,” I said, unconvinced.
“I love it,” he said, still chewing the microgram of Brussels sprout he had in his mouth.
“Michael, you don’t need to lie to me. If you love it, eat it all and have more.”
He cut the sprout in half and forked half into his mouth.
He chewed on it for the better part of 45 minutes.
“Well? Do you still love it?”
“Yes,” he said, finally swallowing. “But I’m full.”
“Mmmkay. I’ll eat the other seven,” I said.
“Okay. They’re really good.”
“Maybe we can get more tomorrow!” I said, brightly.
“No, that’s okay,” he said. “We can try something else.”
“But you love it, right?”
“Oh, yes. I love it. Can I have a treat now?”
“I thought you said you were full.”
“Well I am full of Brussels sprouts, but…”
“Yeah. Eat your dinner.”
If nothing else, I do admire his adherence to the maxim: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.”