Bob asked Lauren:
My wife and I share the cooking. I love fish, she likes fish and two of my kids claim to hate fish. As a result, I eat almost NO fish and I’m frustrated. I would like to be able to sit down in my own house and eat a meal where the star is finally fish! I know you have kids. I was wondering if you could help me with this issue. Thanks so much.
Lauren says: Boy, Bob, did you bark up the right tree! My third child, Jessie, HATED anything to do with fish for the first 7 years of her life. My husband (like you) loved fish and could eat it every night. I was “eh” when it came to fish since we rarely ate it when I was a child. My first child (Ben) has always loved fish and Julie (my middle daughter) was like me and could eat fish but never craved it. Well, my husband became as frustrated as you are now.
As a parent it’s, of course, normal to want to see your children enjoy the entire dinner you prepare. Unfortunately, that’s not always going to happen. That being said, I believe strongly that only one entrée should be made at each meal. We parents are not short order cooks! Having said this, I also believe that a child that doesn’t like the chosen entrée should always feel “heard” at mealtime. This might sound like a contradiction, but let me explain. When my daughter would come to the table and see that fish was the entrée, she would also see her favorite side dish or a homemade biscuit that I knew always made her feel happy. That way she focused less on what she didn’t like and was able to be excited about eating those foods that “talked” to her, personally. This is very important if you want your child to eventually be open to tastes and textures that are initially off-putting.
The most important things to remember are to keep eating meals with your children, keep letting them see you enjoy your favorite foods and please be patient! The first two times I cooked my garlicky, gingery salmon, Jessie came into he kitchen asking “what smells so good?” But, she still refused to eat the salmon at dinner. Again, because she was able to eat some side dishes that she really liked, her firm stance as “a fish hater” eventually softened. After openly admitting to enjoying the aroma from this wonderful salmon recipe, two times later, not only did she try the fish, but SHE LOVED IT! That night, my 7 year-old daughter ate a full eight-ounce portion of salmon (which matched her father)!
The point is: Expose your children to wonderful aromas, soothing textures and shared family meals as often as possible. Trust me, as the mother of three great eaters, eventually they all come around. Here’s my recipe for Ginger-Scented Grilled (or Broiled) Salmon, enjoy!