If a grown adult refuses to eat anything but grilled cheese sandwiches, fries, and waffles, it may now be considered a legitimate medical condition. Well, call me ignorant because I'd always thought picky eating was bad habit or hang up. Or downright childish behavior.
But apparently it's a disease. So be worried…Your kid is sick if he or she avoids all green foods or consumes only foods that are orange. You should seek medical help if broccoli disgusts you. I'm calling the advice nurse and getting a prescription because I dislike fennel and anything that tastes like fennel. I'm really concerned for my father, who feels violated if there's salad (or any vegetable, for that matter) on his plate. And my sister-in-law, who is repulsed by tomatoes, caviar, and anything else that pops because it makes her think of eyes—I'm wondering if a trip to the emergency room is in order?
I will admit that picky eating could lead to a variety of medical problems that a varied, balanced diet would avoid. But seriously folks. I can't tell you how many times I've witnessed first hand a child reach to taste something new, only to have the parent say, "Little Johnny, you wouldn't like that." Is it any wonder little Johnny grows up to be afraid of trying new foods? Even worse, it's considered perfectly normal when adults prepare one meal for themselves and a completely different meal for the kids. I don't know whether they think they're doing themselves or their kids a favor, or if it's a lack of sense or ability to discipline. My parents taught me that our house wasn't a restaurant and that if I was hungry, I would eat whatever food was put in front of me. I didn't get dessert until I finished my dinner either. Now I eat almost everything, and I'm even working on my fennel-and-anything-that-tastes-like-fennel-hate. And another thing, a kid may grow up to be a picky eater simply because his or her mom was a bad cook. The fact that my husband hated steak most of his life can be directly attributed to a childhood of eating well-done sirloin. The fact is, we are a nation of picky eaters because we are raised to be, not because it's some sort of disorder.
…On the other hand, the next time my husband tries to pick out the almonds from a cake I bake, I'm sending him to have his head examined.
Anyway, here's a recipe for a vegetable that's sure to make picky eaters head for the hills…
¾ cup fine cornmeal
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Freshly ground black pepper
Canola oil, for frying
¾ pound fresh okra, cut into ¾-inch pieces
1/3 cup buttermilk
Whisk together the cornmeal, flour, granulated garlic, cayenne, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper in a large, shallow dish. Add enough oil to a large, heavy frying pan to come to a depth of ¾ inch. Heat over medium-high heat until a pinch of the cornmeal mixture sizzles immediately when added. Meanwhile, add the okra to the buttermilk, and stir to coat. Transfer the okra to the cornmeal mixture and toss to coat, separating any pieces that stick together. Shaking off any excess cornmeal mixture, add about half of the okra to the oil and fry, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden brown. Using a skimmer, remove to a paper towel-lined plate and immediately season to taste with salt. Fry the remaining okra in the same manner. Transfer to a bowl and serve immediately.
Serves 4 to 6. Fried okra is extremely popular in the South, and for good reason—it’s downright addictive! Summer is okra season. Select small okra pods, no larger than your pinkie finger, since large pods can be tough and stringy. Although fresh okra is best, you can substitute the fresh okra with a 16-ounce bag of frozen whole okra with good results. Thaw the frozen okra pods about half way for this recipe. Serve with ketchup or ranch dressing for dipping.