Thursday, 1 October 2009

Disasterchef Belgium

Not for my children, the rosy remembrance of their childhood meals. No Proustian memories evoked by my delicious signature dishes. The spawn had a nostalgic discussion about something I had made this evening.

"You remember that thing we wouldn't even touch?"

"That hardly narrows it down. Which one?"

"It was a like a PIE" (shuddering)

"What, like apple pie?"

"No, like MEAT pie"

"I have never made a meat pie in my life. What was in it?"

"Puree" (more shuddering)

"Oh! Shepherds Pie? Hachis Parmentier?"

"Yes! Hachis Parmentier! That was the most disgusting food ever".

"What worse than everything they give you in school?"


I am a rubbish cook as they well know. I'm sure I used to be ok, when it was something I could do occasionally, just for fun. Now I just circle dully around what we could laughingly call my 'repertoire' until something breaks. It's usually me.

Casting around for someone to blame, I am tempted to alight on my younger son. Not only does Fingers eschew all nourishment, living on rage and biscuit crumbs alone, but he has strong views on the poor excuses for meals I do produce. Anything which might conceivably offend his palate (in the unlikely even he were to accidentally eat any of it) is greeted with a full scale diva meltdown. It's like having a small, French AA Gill in the kitchen.

For instance:

Pasta with tomato sauce or bolognese

Fingers rating: Red. Moaning. "Uuuugh, tu sais que je déteste ça"*

Uncle Ben's Microwave Rice, lardons, peas, sweetcorn (please don't kick me M, I know you have strong views on the subject of Oncle Ben)

Fingers rating: Amber. Toyed with, upper lip slightly curled in disdain. He's judging me, silently.

Sausages and chips

Fingers rating: Green/Amber: "Il est où le KETCHUUUUP".

Fishfingers and chips

Fingers rating: Black. Body flops to the ground and jerks around in apparent grand mal seizure "Nooooooooooooon! Pas des feeeshfinger!"

Soup (probably bought, I'm not stupid enough to make my own when I know it's going straight in the bin)

Fingers rating: Red/Black. Inconsolable weeping followed by "Mais à l'école c'est bon. Celle-ci elle n'est pas bonne du tout. Elle est dégoûtante"**

Roast chicken

Fingers rating: Orange. "Que de la peau! C'est trop seeeeec***"

It's reached the point where I dread putting anything on the table; I feel like I'm cooking for Michael Winner every night, if Michael Winner were required to eat in a particularly unreconstructed Happy Eater. Something must change. At present I don't know what that is. Maybe I will indenture him to some Belgian chef. Or maybe the Belgian authorities will take him into care for neglect. He'd make a good case.

* You know I hate that
**But at school it's nice. This one isn't nice at all. It's disgusting.
*** Just skin, it's too dry


Kathy said...

Oh, but how fun it would be to have a wee AA Gill in my house, sneering and immaculately dressed, pretending the females in his midst don't exist except as sex objects, watching loads of highbrow TV. Fingers intrigues me more each day...

Iheartfashion said...

This is depressingly familiar. In fact it could have been transcribed verbatim from my dinner table (minus the French).

Mrs Trefusis... said...

I'm with you on Disasterchef: Trefusis Minor eats chips, plain pasta (no sauce of any kind), and peanut butter sandwiches. Nothing else (sweets, obviously, variations on a theme of toast, the occasional egg). If he were, I don't know, Nicole Kidman or Gwyneth or Madonna, this 'white-ish food only' diet would instantly appear in Grazia. Alas, it simply appears in my own internal Guilt And Frustration Manual.

It makes you lose the will to live. After I've cooked plain pasta with nothing on it for the fifth meal in a row, I think, I'm going to shoot myself. Or just give him a plate of biscuits.

The Tiniest Trefusis, of course, eats anything.

Layla said...

Teach them to make pancakes. This morning I had breakfast at a friend's house, and the breakfast was pancakes cooked by her houseguest, an 18 year old Gap Year traveller, son of a friend, who has stopped off for a few days to refuel before following the Holy Tortoise on the Silk Road towards Iran and places further east.

This charmimg boy cooked some of the best pncakes I have ever eaten, and said that he often cooked them at home for breakfast. It struck me, as I wolfed down my third pancake, that although he might be wet behind the ears, he has set out equippped with at least one useful skill: pancake-making. He charmed us all...

How useful pancake-making will be when he gets to his ultimate destination, the tribal badlands around Peshawar on what used to be called the North West Frontier, I don't know, but it certainly can't do him any harm.

(What the hell his parents are doing letting him go overland via Iran to Pakistan with its curent highly volatile and dngerous political situation, God only knows, but that's by the bye..)

But it is incontrovertible that everyone, even pernickety small children, loves pancakes: therefore if the spawn learn to cook them, your difficult culinary situation should be much eased.

I rest my case

ps have instructed Gerard the Gap Year boy to keep an eye out for the HTTM

Laura Jane said...

Yes, I would be blaming Fingers too. Ungrateful skinny bilingual wretch. Biscuit crumbs and rage are too good for him.

But it would be funny to be a fly on the wall....

Kate said...

OMG you are frenchified, aren't you?! you make salade composee... i need to pause for a second. breathing... trying to control gag reflex... breathing... F has a fondness for this (with tuna in it and mayo) that I can't begin to comprehend. It makes me want to hurl. C of course loves it, canned corn and all. I have strong views on canned corn. Just the smell of it is enough to make me retch. Please, I beg of you, don't make "cake aux olives", if you do, you will be turn into my MIL and soon be wearing 100% synthetic clothes from leclerc rather than lovely things from liberty. and the shoes... oh the horror. Just don't go there.

C eats loads of fruit, and some vegetables but refuses most meats and even is off of cheese and yogurt now. My child is a vegan, I guess. I've resorted to making everything look like animals or faces or letters. I'm just a couple steps (not to mention a few hours a day and the energy to bother) from becoming one of those moms who spends hours making bento boxes with ridiculously cute things to eat.

Margaret said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
M. said...

Oncle Ben's *retch*. I'm dialing social services RIGHT NOW. What was it again? 112?

pinolona said...

my brother is exactly like that, only he's 26 so he's lucky still to be eating for free at home at all. I don't know why my Mum doesn't just give him a slap (he's bigger than her but I'm sure she could manage).

Chantal said...

I don't know if this will make you feel better but I was the fussiest little shit about food when I was a nipper and am now a total foodie, obsessed with eating out and cooking, and there is literally nothing I won't try (except maybe that live monkey brains thing).

So what I'm saying is basically, he might grow out of it? Of course, you might all have died of Oncle Ben's poisoning by then, so I'm not sure how much hope this confers...

MargotLeadbetter said...

I can remember watching my older son eating toast and jam when he was about 2, and being filled with utter glee and delight that he was actually eating something, anything.

He's still a fussy little blighter at 5 but there has been considerable progress since then.

fabhat said...

When I got to university there was a boy who lived downstairs who ate nothing but chips, white rice, ketchup, tomato soup, tinned spaghetti, cornflakes, milk and mashed potato. He had eaten only this since he was a child (and this was before the white stripes - when he might has disguised this food faddiness as an homage...) but within a year he was eating what passes for normal food for students. However he did once give me a dish containing baked avocado, so he was still a bit weird. I'm sure your mini AA Gill will grow out of his food tyranny sooner, surrounded by Gourmandaise Belgians...

indigo16 said...

I feel your pain most nights. I have 3 spawn all with VERY different tastes. Middle spawn is the worst, I get a deep and hearty sigh, before she selects the one dish in my repertoire of 5 that I have not defrosted the meat for.
I feel deeply guilty if I occasionally resort to a ready meal which of course is greeted with a joyus smile as to her that is proper food.
I often have to cook three separate meals by which time I am so exhausted I make do with their coagulated leftovers washed down with a mug of tea.
Food their LOVE but I HATE to cook
Pancakes, always sets of the smoke alarm as does eggy bread (is that a meal?)
Worst of all bloody fishfingers. Am I the only one who gets third degree burns cooking theese horrible things?

Grit said...

there is a saying in this household. deliver it with a nonchalant glance and a shrug of the shoulders as you put dinner on the table...

'here it is. there's grass outside.'

Mya said...

I'm with Grit. Perhaps I'm just insensitive. I tell the Sprog if he doesn't eat whatever is on his plate, there is nothing else. Hunger is a powerful thing.

Mya x

Soda and Candy said...

I'm sorry, but because it's in French it just sounds completely adorable. I'd probably be telling him "Manger, petit batard!"

(my horrible and probably grammatically wrong rendering sans accents of "Eat, you little bastard/bread-roll!")

Jaywalker said...

Kathy - I find it terrifying. The constant weight of judgment. The sooner he starts cooking, the better.

Iheart - I know, we're not alone. It's still fricking annoying though.

Mrs T - Soul destroying. Poor you.

Layla - he's quite handy with the Kitchenaid. In fact anything sweet is fine. It's actual nourishing food that causes a problem. A bit like his maman.

Laura Jane - yes, it's horribly funny, but I can't let him see that, sadly.

Kate - that's fighting talk, that is. Outside, NOW.

M - pfff. You are so fucking French. I'll give them jelly for pudding too.

Pinolona - oh, lord. Your poor mother. Also, now I'm terrified. Damn.

Chantal - yeah, so was I. It's karma.

Margot - at least when they're a bit older you aren't that bothered about them starving or whatever. I don't know where he gets his nourishment from. He probably has a secret food stash at school. But whatever.

Fab Hat - baked avocado sounds gross. Bleeeugh.

indigo16 - what do you do with the fishfingers? Juggle them?

Grit - I suspect you have a higher wailing tolerance threshold than me. I am pathetic.

Mya - yes. He will eat eventually. It's just the running commentary that kills me.

soda & candy - I'm certainly thinking it really really hard...

Sonya said...

Probably too late to comment on this, but I've been in the Slough of Despond all weekend and was not up to wrestling the laptop away from the girls. They can now outlast me; at 02:30 I gave up and went to bed. I only have access now because I'm letting them sleep late. I should get them up to do their homework, but then I'll lose the computer again. Sorry - off topic.

Anyway, my dilemma is that all of the favoured foods of one daughter are LOATHED by the other. No matter what I make (unless it involves chips), I will have complaints. B: "Why did you make salmon??You know I hate it? It is disgusting!" S: " But I love it. Why shouldn't we have it, just because you don't like it!"

Or, if I make anything even remotely spicy (otherwise known as tasty), such as chili, curry, anything that might possibly be considered related distantly to Mexican, or anything involving beans, B is extremely happy and S refuses to even touch it. S will then sneak down later and make toast or chips.

Did I mention mine are 14 and 16? This is not ever getting better, is it?

Beth said...

LOVE reading your blog :) ... what about serving really simple things that are fresh and nutritious and also very easy for you? Some possibilities... salmon with a dab of olive oil popped in the oven for 20 minutes... potatoes mashed with cooked carrot or sweet potato, salt and lots of butter and milk... smoked salmon on buttered bread with a fresh green salad... white fish just thrown in a bunch of melted butter and sauteed for a few minutes... hamburgers (ground beef mixed with an egg) (here I give away my nationality of birth) with cheddar on a bun (available at delhaize)... shrimp cocktail (bags of frozen shrimp and cocktail sauce at delhaize), sauteed steak, grilled cheese sandwiches, tacos with ground beef mixed with taco sauce, shredded cheddar, lettuce, and tomato. Dunno, these are all super simple and quick things kids have loved in my experience. And I'm certainly not a gourmet chef, I just love fresh food.

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