for my children: cheese tasting
I am a huge advocate of getting my children to try new foods. What I mean to say is, I believe our palates evolve (or so I tell my kids). When I was a kid I wasn't a big fan of tomatoes and avocados (to name 2 of at least 300), but now I adore them. Does your child eat roasted onions or olives, goat cheese or brussel sprouts? (Okay, be proud if they do, but my point is: don' t we all like a lot more foods as adults than we did as children)? My 11 year old likes more foods this year than he did last year (he recently added poached eggs and goat cheese to his repertoire; he disdained both for many years). Your taste buds are growing up, too, I tell him. And if it is a certain right of passage to maturity for your taste buds to develop, well, you have piqued their interest and even more importantly: their palate.
And besides, kids love to have opinions; and they love to share those opinions with adults... Parents in particular.
So why not give them an opportunity to decipher their palate, to navigate through flavors and textures, to think banana and avocado texture are gross, shrimp is chewy and chocolate mousse is really, really chocolatey?
And then they notice when their siblings like things other than them, and proudly discover they prefer Asian pears to other pears and are partial to kalamata olives. Maybe you should start with their favorite flavor of Kettle chips (mine adore the Honey Dijon)? And there are so many foods they still have to try, and retry, since their palates are growing up too.
The other day I was at the market, and discovered these little nubs. At almost any cheese counter, they have little pieces of cheese left over. Not worthy to stand alone, these are mere samplings, wrapped, weighed and marked: $ .57 for an ounce, $2.11 for a large chunk, $1.02 for a good taste of farmhouse white cheddar. Ultimately, for about $5 I came home with 6 different varieties of white cheddar. One was aged, one was from Vermont, others were specifically farmhouse cheddar and at least two came from England.
And I opened them, cut them into bite size pieces, marked their origins on some parchment, threw on some almonds and pears to cut the flavors and we all sat around and tasted cheddar. And shared opinions. Very, very sharp was one. Sweet and mild was another. And a third... what flavor is that? Interesting... it is the only one that says: 'Aged.'
So we ate, and learned, and payed attention and shared. Those are the moments we live for.