We were at a restaurant recently in Venice, Italy and experienced the unthinkable.
As we sat having dinner in a small upscale restaurant we couldn’t help but notice a couple with three children sitting opposite us. They asked for menu and spent quite a bit a time “studying it”. Their children looked hungry and couldn’t have been more than 3, 5, 7 years old. Ten minutes later the waiter returned (he went there twice before to check if they were ready), and the nonsense began.
“Are all of our your sauces homemade? My son doesn’t like bottled sauces, or any kind of sauce that comes in a bottle.” said the mother.
The waiter looked puzzled and said, “Our pizza sauces are homemade here in our kitchen”.
She went on, “What I mean is does the tomatoes come from a can or are they made fresh? My children can tell the difference if its fresh or canned. So everything is made with fresh ingredients right?”
He replied, “Yes”.
“Is this water bottled?” the oldest boy asked.
The waiter said, “No, would you like to order some bottled water?”
“Yes, but only if its in a bottle and not a plastic bottle. We only drink water from glass bottles.”
The ridiculous conversation went on for at least 5 minutes. I would have normally not paid any attention to what’s going on around me but because there was really no justification for the 7 year olds demands it made it all very hard to digest. Earlier, we overheard the mother commenting why restaurants in Italy don’t have more gluten free items on their menu? The father responded to her saying, “Honey, we’re not at home and you and the kids have no food allergies. We are in Italy, everything has gluten in it. Just order the food so we can get out of here.”
Since when did we as parents get so paranoid about everything we eat, that we impose our ridiculous eating habits onto unsuspecting waiters/waitresses and then pass that on to our children? Again, I said “habits”. I find it hard to believe a child can taste the difference between bottled and canned tomatoes? There’s a difference between “eating habits” and “dietary restrictions”. The above senario is clearly an example of “eating habits”.
Teaching your children to love food and have respect for the food they eat is very important in developing healthy eating habits. This is why our children, Lou Lou and Jaf have no problems trying and eating different types of cuisines. We have taught them that food is the source that nourishes their bodies and that they should always make good choices when choosing what to eat. When we travel outside the US, we seek out local markets to shop and buy organic food when possible. So does choosing fresh produce or meat from a local deli make us food snobs? No, because we don’t impose our food and eating preferences to the world around us. We are flexible. We love to eat organic, gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free foods all the time, but only if it’s available. Simply put, we don’t impose our eating habits to everyone around us thereby instilling this type of eating habit onto our children.
Being kid-foodies mean my kids love to eat, to try everything. Organic, bottled, canned or not. Personally I think many families who have very stringent eating habits are really limiting their child’s curiosity for trying new things. In this world, its almost impossible to find an Indian, Korean, Mexican, Moroccan or German restaurant that only uses organic ingredients. Growing up, one of the most fascinating and exciting times of my life was when I traveled to a new country and tried their cuisine for the first time.
Again, if you and your family love dining out and have dietary restrictions (religious, organic, food-allergies, etc) then by all means question that waiter away. But if you ‘re just passing on your “preferred eating habits” onto your children don’t be all that surprised when they then turn into picky eaters