A very good friend of mine – who I shall call Mr B – once gave me some great parenting advice. “Instead of lollies, ” he said, “Give your children bags of mushrooms”.
Mushrooms! Of course!
I need not add that Mr B gave this advice before he actually became a parent himself. In his defence, he did base it on Actual Culinary Events involving Real Children. What he didn’t know at the time is that these kids were no ordinary children: they were freak mushroom-eating children.
I’ve yet to produce a mushroom-eating child. My battle to get Mr Justice even in the same room as a mushroom continues to this day. He’s certainly progressed from the small baby who subsisted entirely on yoghurt, lamb cutlets and ‘peachy num-nums’. These days, along with my other two children, he eats broccoli. Broccoli! For a while there I was going to have to write a book entitled “My Broccoli-eating children”, with a cashing-in-on-success sequel called “My Cauliflower-eating Son”. But I started this blog instead.
Getting your children to eat vegetables of any variety seems to cause undue stress. I have a friend who fled a war zone as a child and who now finds getting her son to eat anything green comparably traumatic. Well luckily Jessica Seinfeld feels our pain in the book “Deceptively Delicious”. For those of you who aren’t in the know, Mrs Seinfeld (according to the Oprah website) “shows moms sneaky ways to get children to eat their veggies!” (the exclamation mark is entirely Oprah’s – she’s an enthusiastic lady). From what I can tell, this mostly involves a lot of steaming, pureeing and freezing of vegetables and then hiding them in brownies and cakes. I suspect, however, that after all that steaming, pureeing, freezing and baking, the vegetables would have roughly the same nutritional value as a paper bag. So who’s fooling who, eh, Jessica?
For what it’s worth, my own child-friendly recipe for mushrooms is as follows:
STEP ONE: Buy a bag of lovely fresh mushrooms
STEP TWO: Throw two-thirds in the bin immediately.
STEP THREE: Take the rest, partially chew them and throw them at the kitchen floors, walls and cupboards, taking care to smear some on the permission slip you’ve yet to return to the school.
STEP FOUR: For that little something extra special: make sure to put one partially-chewed mushroom in the zippered compartment of your favourite handbag. You’ll thank yourself later.