(by Stacy Feintuch)
Our family of four was sitting at the breakfast table on a vacation in Florida. Our five-year-old took one look at the salsa on her father’s eggs and started to gag.
“Are you okay?” my husband and I said in unison, while her older sister looked on in horror.
“Ewwww, the tomatoes make me sick!” was her response.
Tomatoes made her sick? She was only looking at them, not eating them.
This was when we noticed her very complicated relationship with food.
I am not a picky eater. My husband was not a picky eater. My oldest daughter is not a picky eater. As a matter of fact, she eats just about anything and has become somewhat of a “foodie.” But my youngest daughter makes even the pickiest eaters in the world look like gourmets.
That incident in Florida was 15 years ago. At 20, her eating habits have not changed much since she was a kindergartner. She has an approved list of foods that includes mostly carbs, chicken, eggs, fruit, and junk food. She recently added steak and burgers to her menu but has never tried a vegetable and still cannot look at anything that contains tomatoes, which means she will not even eat pizza.
No, she does not have an eating disorder, she just never seemed to grow out of her childhood eating habits.
It may be partly my fault. I never “forced” or even “strongly encouraged” her to try new foods, as was suggested to me by many.
When she was ten and her sister 12, their dad passed away very suddenly, putting many things on the back burner for us, and this issue was probably one of the last on my list. Life became hard, and we had to deal with grief, depression, financial responsibilities, schoolwork, and just trying to find happiness everywhere we could. If Lily wanted chicken fingers and French fries for dinner every night, that was okay with me.
As she was growing up, her sister and I would joke with her, “Are you going to order pasta with butter when you go on dates?” or “How do you think pancakes for dinner will go over with your coworkers at a business function?"
She would just laugh and say that she likes what she likes and does not care what other people think. And she truly doesn’t.
I am extremely proud of both of my daughters. One of the worst things in the world happened to them, and the fact that they seem to be turning into thriving young adults is the best thing I could ever ask for. I will take little problems; little problems are a piece of cake.
Lily now goes to college in New York City, where they have some of the best restaurants and food in the world. I am hoping that just maybe she will give some of them a try and maybe expand her palette just a bit.
But what is she most excited about? There is a Shake Shack directly across the street from her dorm. I guess it is going to be burgers and fries for a while longer.
Baked Chicken Fries
(Lily-approved; adapted from Tasty.co)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts 2 c. plain bread crumbs 1 t. salt 1/2 t. garlic powder 1/2 t. onion powder 1/2 t. paprika 1/2 t. dried basil 1/2 t. dried oregano 1/2 t. pepper
1 c. flour 5 eggs, beaten
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Slice chicken breast in half, and cut into thin strips about the thickness of a french fry.
Season bread crumbs with salt, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, basil, oregano, and pepper, mixing well.
Dredge chicken strips in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs.
Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 20 minutes, flipping halfway.