Thursday, April 3, 2008

Will They Ever Eat Anything Besides Mac N' Cheese?

Sometimes I have a Kafka-esque vision of myself standing over a hot stove, cooking up a box of Annie's Mac N' Cheese ... for eighteen-year-old twins.

At some point or other, will they stop being so insistent on eating this oozing, creamy yellow/orange concoction? Will they ever stop asking for the pasta in the bunny shapes? Will they be able to go more than three nights straight without eating some of it?

To be fair, Thing 2 is quite the culinary adventuress. Tonight, when she saw Late Blooming Mom and Daddy dining on pesto angel hair, she demanded her own plate of the stuff -- and promptly slurped down three helpings. She will gladly devour roast salmon or baked Dover sole. She loves dipping bread in olive oil and good balsamic. (One thing about being a Late Blooming Mom: your palate's a bit more sophisticated, perhaps a bit more Alice Waters-influenced, than that of your average standard-age mom, so your kids get exposed to foodie-level food at a tender age.) But put Annie's Mac N' Cheese in front of her, and she's going to demolish it.

Thing 1 on the other hand, is the picky eater. The only way to get him to try new things is to slip them directly in his mouth surreptitiously while he's focused on the latest adventures of Disney Channel animated handy man HANDY MANNY. Thing 1 is so addicted to M & C, he'd be happy to eat it every night. He's also got his favorite M&C, from our local Koo Koo Roo. He's nuts for it, though Annie's Curly Mac N' Cheese runs a close second. Then there's the curly rotini (or is it fusili? you know, the corkscrew pasta) he gets at CPK: that's currently holding down third place in the M&C pantheon.

Somehow I've got a son who actually prefers M & C to pizza.

This is astonishing to me because until a few years ago, I'd never eaten the stuff. Not out of a box, let alone the gourmet comfort food versions with four cheeses showing up at foodie restaurants.

I got through my entire childhood and a good chunk of adulthood -- even the early, post-college, impoverished years where I sometimes ate stir-fried hot dogs with sliced carrots, white rice and soy sauce -- without cracking open a box of M & C.

Now that my kids eat it, I have to admit, it's pleasant-tasting stuff -- as long as you avoid the stuff with Velveeta. I've been known to dive into a box of Annie's myself when I'm desperate for a quick lunch.

But still: every night?

I can only hope Thing 2's proclivity for tastier, more interesting fare at some point rubs off on Thing 1.

The day I most look forward to -- to quote one of the moms at my kids' preschool -- is the day I can cook one meal all of us will eat.

Until then, it's all-you-can-eat M&C buffet at our house.

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