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21/09/2011 / melgardener

Three little words

So, last night I dished up dinner. Nothing special about that except that I was stepping into experimental territory with a meal I had cooked only once before and which had received a mixed reception. You see, my children are a tautology when it comes to meals.

If I give you a list of all the things they will eat – butter chicken, chilli con carne, tacos, massaman curry to name a few – you would be forgiven for believing that the kids have wide ranging tastes and are open to trying new things.

But, lift the rose-coloured glasses for a moment and you’ll realise that we actually have a very small list of meals the children will actually agree to imbibe – some of those meals may sound exotic (and I suppose they are) but try asking my children to sample something they haven’t had before and you may as well ask them to cut off their own limb. Such is the level of negativity this idea often brings.

The level of negotiation which must be undertaken before any new dish will be tried is so tiring that my husband and I often give up without trying – reasoning that we need to pick our battles.

But we are increasingly bored with our dinner options and are starting to feel as though we are cooking the same meals over and over again simply to keep the children happy.

So I recently introduced the idea that we were going to try something new every couple of weeks. They didn’t have to like it, but they did have to try it.

This, as you can imagine, has garnered a mixed bag of results.

This week I am making san choy bow – a personal favourite and something I order often at Chinese restaurants. I had tried this once before and, while they agreed to eat some of the meal, it was very half hearted. But I heard somewhere that you had to introduce a new taste up to six times before your taste buds would get used to it so I decided to persevere.

It’s a really simple dish to make – pork mince, various veggies, garlic, ginger, soy sauce and oyster sauce – and is very quick and easy to put together. I reasoned that the kids would love making their own lettuce leaf ‘rolls’ and provided a handful of chopped, roasted cashew nuts to sprinkle on top before rolling.

My personal tip – I always stir through a bag of fried noodles in the mince mixture just before serving – they add a great crunch.

So, what were the three little words which so captured my heart?

“This is delicious!”

I’m currently doing the Snoopy Dance of Joy.

Do you have mealtime battles or are your kids experimental? How do you negotiate various likes and dislikes at your dinner table?

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