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Magnum Opus on touchy subject

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
There has been a good deal of discussion, and indeed some ranting, here lately concerning children and dining.
From the hot topic of should fine dining restaurants be expected to even serve children to being inconvenienced by having to prepare the apparently gastronomically abhorrent breaded chicken tender.

Included in these discussions are the customary, expected and appropriate comments about teaching children to appreciate good food and castigations of parents who habitually capitulate to children’s preferences on a perverse level. As well as how professionals can or should entertain children in their establishments.

I find that some of the discussion hints at but doesn’t really acknowledge or address an underlying concept that is a particular pet subject matter of mine. One that falls under themes that are cultural, physiological, nutritional and psychological. (I won’t attempt to cover all of these themes in this one post, I’m sure you are relieved.)

I’ll try not to let this turn into a dissertation, but I consider it worthy of discussing and a bit of healthy debate. While I think that the topic is one that could find a home in almost any gathering of intelligent adults, I believe that it is particularly relevant to this group due to the fact we all harbor a love and respect of quality food as well as the fact that here there is no small number of people who are in the trenches and on the front lines of parenthood.

Beyond that, the concentration of passionate professionals— Who are an intrinsic part of setting the standard of what constitutes “good taste” in our society far beyond the concept of taste as one of the five senses and thereby occupy the position of being if not the architects then the masons for the foundation of our culture— adds a (pardon the culinary reference) depth of flavor that might be lacking in a different venue.

The big statement: Children are not little people, smaller versions of grown-ups or the same as adults just lacking experience. They are physically, chemically and biologically by definition immature i.e. not fully formed. They lack not just stature and experience but hormones, nerve endings and synapses that make up a fully formed human being.

From this statement I extrapolate that children are to be held to a different set of standards than those to which we hold adults. Furthermore, they must be guided through virtually all aspects of life due to the deficiencies that are fundamental to their nature. This is a given in our society. Or is it really?

Do we actually hold true to this belief or do we only trot out “different standards” when we are in the arena of punitive juvenile law, statutory rape, consumption of alcohol and nicotine or the right to vote?

In so far as children’s ability to discern, let alone enjoy the same taste sensation as adults I offer this link (and since I am techno challenged I can only hope it appears somewhere near this statement) not as a definitive all inclusive reference but merely a jumping off point for the science of the sense of taste in relation to not only differences between individual adults and individual children but the differences between adults in general in relation to children in general as well.

To believe that children are at all times “finicky” or “spoiled” because they have not been taught to appreciate some particular food item or that they simply have not been properly exposed to a broad palate is off base. Their taste buds are physically different. And depending on what age the child is (and the individual child) they have more taste buds in their mouths than adults do (on the inside of their cheeks and the roof of their mouths) leading to a heightened sense of taste peculiar to their genetic taste disposition.

My understanding is that bitterness sensitivity is so common in children to the point of being the norm. The bitterness “factor” is what is causing all of this research in hopes that we can find ways to get the kids to choose more veggies. Vegetables are usually the harbingers of bitter flavor.

Given the physical state of children’s taste receptors, teaching children to like something (even if it is good for them and perfectly prepared) is not truly possible in all instances. In fact some children with acute bitterness sensors would find certain foods not just yucky tasting, but so unpleasant as to be painful to taste. Think of the stuff you paint on the fingers of nail bitters.

Eventually, their taste buds develop and they loose some of the “extra ones” as they mature, and their tastes change.

The point here is that children that suddenly decide that they like turnip greens didn’t do so because they finally ate enough of them so that they trained their taste buds, their taste buds naturally matured. Which is something all of our taste buds do until they begin to atrophy with age and you end up eating nursing home food and think it is quite yummy.

For the most part, children simply do not have the same capacity to enjoy all types of “adult” food as we do. Not because their taste buds haven’t been properly educated but because their taste buds are physically different. There will always be exceptions to the rule but look at your own children (who are obviously not eating things out of a box with a dancing oven mitt on it) and see where their “better educated than most of their friends” taste buds lean; probably toward healthier, better prepared, fresh ingredient items of the same ilk.

Given all of that, it is conceivable to concluded that certain flavors aren’t just wasted on children, but it boarders on cruel to ask them to eat certain foods. Yes, their nutritional needs must be met, but even their nutritional needs aren’t the same as ours. They need natural fats in their diets in amounts that would be detrimental to an adult, even into the teenaged years. (I have an anorexic Goddaughter and have learned far more than I ever wanted to know about nutrition and mental health from that experience.)

That mild tasting breaded chicken tender might be considered bland and lacking to adult taste receptors, but a child’s taste receptors will actually detect subtle flavors and nuances that yours are incapable of registering. Unfortunately, due to their nature, they lack the capacity to articulate the sensation or even be cognizant of the fact that food can be and should be appreciated on such a level.

So for the Chef who chooses to make a fine dining version of buttered noodles and breaded chicken tenders for their patrons who are young, you didn’t stoop to making something beneath you. You simply created a meal that only a “super taster” could enjoy, a meal that is the pinnacle of a different set of standards.

We need children’s menu items in fine dining.

(The addictive properties of absolute junk food, marketing strategies by the junk food industry and how they are killing our society, is reserved for a post of its own.)

Now here comes the social implications of The big statement and how those implications relate to how excluding children from the dining room can be good for the child and society in general:

Children should be educated on a vast array of subject matter including life in general, but at appropriate times and at appropriate stages of development that vary from child to child and family to family.
Children also need boundaries and not just the kind that are about not playing in the middle of the street and being home by a certain time.

Here is where I will probably part ways with the crowd:

To insist that children should be allowed entry into any and every social setting so long as it isn’t adult (in the wink, wink, nudge, nudge sense of the word adult) just because it might be, or even would be an educational experience is wrong.

Often (no not always, there are exceptions), the children will not remotely enjoy the experience and beyond that they will learn absolutely nothing more than their parents chose to drag them somewhere where they were terribly bored and uncomfortable. (And yes there are a great many activities that children should participate in that are “boring” and cause them discomfort) This perception comes from the limited capacity of children to process information and put it in its appropriate context. The biggest, and often, the only lesson learned is that they (the children) are entitled to go virtually anywhere and experience virtually anything in the name of broadening their horizons.

Entitled to an adult experience; rushed through childhood so that a parent can boast of the precocious capabilities of their wunderkind— the moral of the story being that the only distinction between a child and an adult is the ability to vote, choose sexual partners and have a glass of wine or a cigar when you choose.

In our rush to educate them, we steal something. We make it seem (to their limited understanding and cognitive abilities) that crossing the threshold into adulthood is about what we do with our bodies not our minds. All children long to cross that threshold, it is part of the human experience. If that threshold is about the body then any 13 year old can choose to step across.
Take a look around, they are doing just that. And no, they aren’t all poor and uneducated. I just had to buy a pregnancy test for a friend of my daughter. She was too afraid to talk to her well to do, well educated parents. Her GPA is great and she takes part in all the extracurricular activities that all of the other EIGHTH GRADE kids do. Thank God it was negative.

Society as a whole should take steps to change the perception of what constitutes passage into adult hood. We should all help build clear boundaries separating the children from the adults. Not just because some people wish to dine away from children, but because a clear delineation would benefit children in profound ways.

It also seems that the style and taste makers are in a unique position to bring about more change. No, not every fine dinning restaurant should be “adult only” but support of such institutions and culinary rights of passage could have far reaching implications.

(Insert perfunctory discourse on the ceremonial nature of food across cultures.)

Do I think that fine dining and world class chefs can cure all social ills? Not at all. However, since it is clear that so many social fashions and customs (and the fall out from, both good and bad) come from the industry that it might be worth talking about.

Alright, as I mentioned in a previous post I have been in the process of clearing out a heavily wooded acre or so of my yard, armed with just a few hand tools. I have obviously had entirely too much time to gaze into my own belly button lint. The sad part is that I could go on and on and on. I have got to get out more J
post #2 of 22
Quite a post. I have but one, single, burning thought:

Please describe your experience with parenting...
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #3 of 22
I read this post earlier and didn't respond 'til now.

I'm a dad of 3 kids and if I take them out to dinner it's a buffet-type place, because they'll find something they like no matter what.

They have never appreciated what wife and I consider the best. She and I make our reservations at a nice place that's pretty expensive. We don't want to pay 30 bucks for each kid's dinner if they would have just as soon had a dinner at a more casual place. Plus, wife and I get to enjoy the experience without having to take care of their napkins and spoons and complaints. They don't like it any more than your average restaurant, and it's a nice "date" for my wife and me.
post #4 of 22
Thread Starter 
Foodpump, what would you like to know? I am a mother of five: 14 year old daughter, 8 year old daughter, 7 year old son, 3 year old son, and 2 year old daughter, each of them amazingly different from their siblings.

I’m proud of them all, but I always try to keep their limitations in mind. Pushing a child is one thing, pushing them beyond their capabilities is unfair and abusive. We have one rule when it comes to performance in any arena: Pursue excellence and be the best you can be. That means different things for each child. We also are very strict about personal responsibility.

Do we have 100% compliance 100% of the time? Of course not, not even close, I’d worry if we did.

Childhood is training for adult life, if I send them out into the world not able to care for themselves, then I have failed. If I send them before they are ready, then I have failed. There are countless ways to fail as a parent. I succeed in only one way, if I turn out happy, healthy, well-rounded people who have the ability to think critically and care for themselves.

I have an amazing partner in my husband, who at 29 years my senior was a father of four on the day I was born. My step-children are all highly successful in their fields, but more importantly they are happy, and the grandchildren currently total 9 from 16 years old to 2 years old. He holds a PhD in Philosophy and his award winning dissertation is on Nietzschian Pedagogy. (Proud wife J )While we were dating I took his dissertation off his bookshelf and read it, I tell everyone that once I had finished it I knew that getting married to him was secondary to my desire to raise children with him. (Just as a side note, the pick up line he used on me the night we met was “So what do you think about the Malthusian Principle?” I melted like butter.)

I’m the primary care giver for the children, my work outside the home is flexible, and so I spend more time with the kids on a day to day basis. My husband is the primary “bread winner” for now. These roles are due to change over the next several years as he approaches retirement age.

We are two very opinioned people. We try to think long and hard before we reach a conclusion and then act on it. No, it’s not a self-righteous thing, more like a “we can’t very well throw stones if we live in a glass house” thing. We respectfully disagree with opinions that are logically thought out but arrive at different conclusions than we have. We abhor knee jerk opinions and fallacious arguments. We raise our children to do likewise.

All that being said, my children are a wild ride and not for the faint of heart. They scare the bejeezums out of my mother (who herself is capable of striking fear into the hearts of very large grown men J ). But it could be worse, they could be stupid.

My oldest is highly manipulative and has an unbelievable talent for art. We try and get her to push her artistic boundaries outside of the Mangas she loves and also encourage her to use her manipulation skills for the forces of good, not evil.

My 8 year old is a special challenge as she has a rare genetic endocrine disorder that at first looked like mild autism but is in actuality an inability for her body to process vitamin D and calcium.(Nutrition, nutrition, nutrition!) After a years long battle with doctors over the existence of the disorder (we finally found a believer) she is flourishing as never before, just because she mega-doses on vitamins and we make sure she eats a specific diet and gets plenty of sunshine (the best way for the body to get Vitamin D). The teenager has the same disorder but it manifests as abnormal bone growth in her feet and a scalp condition as opposed to behavioral and language delays. The 8 year old’s gifts are humor and an eye for the sacred.

My seven year old has a mind like a sponge. A first grader that reads on a 5th grade level. He doesn’t understand that school is not as easy for his peers as it is for him, so he gets in trouble when he finishes his work and wants to play. Fortunately, he is also the consummate Boy Scout (he always wants to do the “right” thing, whatever that is at the time) and a huge Spider-man fan. We had a long discussion about the wise words of Uncle Ben Parker: With great power comes great responsibility. His “power” is his mind and he has to be responsible with it, that includes recognizing that his peers don’t learn as easily as he does so he has to help safeguard their education by being respectful of their needs. Believe it or not, he got it and the teacher sent her regards.

The three year old is sweet and tender, and I look forward to the loving man he can become.

The two year old? She’s best described as being a “hot mess” and will most likely be the one from whom I should expect the most trouble. J

At the end of the day, my goals for my children are exceedingly selfish. I want them to become people that I would like, even if I didn’t love them so much. And I hope that they never have to suffer some of the lessons I learned because I entered the adult world ill-equipped. I can’t spare them all the pain of the world, there are lessons we each must learn from experience. But, if I’m lucky, and diligent, I can help keep their souls intact.

My philosophy on child rearing?

Always have a sense of humor, along with an understanding that there is a time for composure and decorum and a time for booger jokes.

Remember that children are always watching, lead by example.

Never forget that the only thing you can really give them is roots and wings.

And lastly, you don’t change the world with signs and protests, you change the world by what you teach your children.

Oh yeah, they can all eat their weight in high starch foods and are in heaven when allowed free reign with Pixie-styx. But the three year old pouts when I don’t share my steamed artichokes, the two year old will eat anything (including crayons), the seven and eight year old will arm wrestle each other for dibs on the crudités platter and roasted garlic dip and the teenager not only eats sushi, but makes it because I can’t stand to be near the stuff.
post #5 of 22
izbnso- all well said- i think if you wanted to give up catering you could have a nice writing career!
While we don't take our child to really fine dining restaurants, i took issue with that OTHER thread's poster because I think it is absurd in this business to not be willing to cater to any guest's needs.
I just took my 21 month old daughter to her first movie last week (any empty 11:45 am showing so as not to disturb others, ahem): Horton Hears a Who. And in those famous words by Dr.Seuss: "A person is a person no matter how small."
So if I or anyone else were to choose to spend time with their children and eat something fantastic, I really don't think that some self-important chef who seems to be in this business more for the ego stroke than pleasing guests, should have any say about it. A private club is one thing. A restaurant open to the public, quite another.
post #6 of 22
Excellent point. So my question is, referring to the post that motivated this thread, what did the child of the irate parent learn?

I think the child learned that if I throws a temper tantrum, I will get what I want because others are here to serve me. Apparently that is a lesson the irate parent has learned well.

What you said about childrens taste mechanisms is true enough. With that in mind it is my opinion that it is the parents responsibility to take their children to appropriate places to eat, much as OregonYeti does, instead of requiring a business who has no interest in catering to children to then cater to children. If parents want to take their children to a place that doesn't cater to children then the parents should make an appropriate selection from the existing menu for their children.
post #7 of 22
Thread Starter 
OregonYeti, it’s not just the $30 per child and worrying about who has whose spoon. Throw in “bathroom inspection” (For those who do not have children “bathroom inspection” is a peculiar habit that children of a certain age have. They have a obsessive compulsive desire to visit every public restroom they encounter to determine if the toilets are self-flushing, what type of hand soap (foamy or non) is offered and how much of it they can extract from the dispenser in a 30 second time period. Heaven forbid it have an air blowing hand driver!) and the twenty dollars over and above the percentage based tip you have to leave the server because more food ended up on the floor than in the toddler’s mouth!

However, we do take them out to posh places on a somewhat regular basis. Our favorite is an exclusive local hotel that offers a Sunday brunch buffet, and yeah we do spend way upwards of $200 when we go, even with the two littlest ones eating for free. That type of setting provides the fine dining experience in an atmosphere that the children are more comfortable with.
We reserve those trips for special occasions: some Easter Sundays, Mother’s Day, and our Anniversary. (We celebrate our wedding anniversary with the entire family and make a point to the children that it isn’t only a celebration of the day my husband and I got married, but the day our family began so they are always included.)


“izbnso- all well said- i think if you wanted to give up catering you could have a nice writing career!”

Thank you, and from your lips to God’s ears.

“So if I or anyone else were to choose to spend time with their children and eat something fantastic, I really don't think that some self-important chef who seems to be in this business more for the ego stroke than pleasing guests, should have any say about it. A private club is one thing. A restaurant open to the public, quite another.”

I find that I often agree with people on their point, not their premise, which was something I attempted to touch on in my initial diatribe. But I “feel ya” on this one. Let’s just say that we all encounter adults who are prime examples of why raising children who feel entitled to constant satisfaction of their every whim is not such a good idea.


I agree with you as well. (Oh, by the way, there was another thread that got so out of hand it was closed. That one was, more than the current one, the impetus for this thread.)

I love my children, but I realize that not everyone else on the planet harbors those same feelings. So, I try not to “inflict” my children upon people unnecessarily. That includes restaurant personnel.

I have never worked in a restaurant kitchen that didn’t also have a drive thru window attached to the building. (Catering is a different form of service than restaurant service and cooking to order as customers walk through the door is more than I want to do. I want a minimum two weeks notice and an accurate head count! J)
However, I think that I can say with reasonable accuracy that all restaurant kitchens are fine tuned around the menu they offer. You don’t show up at the chicken joint and ask for a hamburger. It is rude, not to mention tacky, to ask a business to throw a monkey wrench in their operating process to accommodate one person or table.

That being said, as an adult with allergies I have no problem asking that the grilled vegetables with peppers not come on my plate along with my steak. I don’t require a substitution or that a special batch of veggies be grilled for me, just leave it off. I know that the chef worked really hard to develop the perfect flavor combination and then composed the plate to be visually pleasing as well. I know that I cringe when clients request food that I find to be lacking, because ultimately I don’t want my name attached to something I consider sub-standard. But I think that leaving off an element of a dish that doesn’t upset the established process for a client, no matter what their age, is reasonable.
I don’t consider it poor form if I ask that you send out a deconstructed version of something on your menu so that I can please the kid. I will ask nicely and if the accommodation is impossible I will adapt.
post #8 of 22
Can you really say that children cannot dine in the same eateries as their parents and thoroughly enjoy the experience.
For many years, as a family, we have pored through the menu. cafe or fine dining. - We all choose something different and we discreetly share till we are sure the younger ones are happy - we can always swap if they're not, as the older ones have developed a taste for pretty much everything. This way we now have a 31 year old, a 28 year old and a 14 year old that not only get excited about trying something new, They experiment in the kitchen too. 2 of them took after me and are accomplished chefs.
Cultures all over the world hit their kids with flavour and spice from the word go - Tripe, squid,chillies, blood mixed with milk, offal.
We're not all culinary heathens. And it's unfair to generalise.
To end. The western world has, in general a very low expectation of what their kids can eat and what they are offered in restaurants...They are not often dissapointed are they?
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
post #9 of 22
There is so much in your post that I agree with and respect, but will confine my response to the quoted part. What you write of is the conduct becoming of a mature and responsible person, and I doubt any restaurant staff would have any issue with accomodating your request, either on your behalf as a person with allergies or your children whose tastes at any given age may not yet be ready for fully adult food(for lack of anything better to call it:D ) I would hope, even though you personally don't require it, that the staff would at least offer a substitution or a special batch made just for you to help complete your meal.

BTW I had forgotten about the closed thread;) . Also like stellasmomma. I do like your writing.
post #10 of 22
Well, good that you can afford that. We can't.

Bughut, my kids really don't appreciate finer food.
post #11 of 22
Given the choice mine would be happy in a cafe rather than a restaurant. When the older ones were younger, the money simply wasnt there for fine dining. But the rules are the same surely? You dont let them run around, They dont wave their cutlery about, eat with their mouths open, shout,or abuse the staff. If the food is an issue, mum and dad deal with it quietly.
Getting to know different cuisines and cultures has been part of their education, whether it's a chinese takeaway, the local curry house, or a once in a blue moon "posh place".
The kids grow up and I have the peace of mind that they can take a date, or a business colleague to a high end restaurant, or Joes cafe and be comfortable. The older ones have thanked me for their "training".
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
post #12 of 22
A wise parent knows their child/children. Take them to a place which is appropriate to them. And for goodness sake, where have discipline and manners disappeared to these days? One of my biggest dislikes is kids running round screaming in an environment where they should be settled down to enjoy a meal, and letting others enjoy theirs.

Dining out has always been a special treat for our family - we don't have money to throw around so we save up, and make it a big occassion. Manners and good behaviour were expected and have always been taught. Not only in restaurants, but in all areas of life. Simple things like "thank you" and "Please" cost nothing (this applies to many adults I see also). The majority of places have food on the main menu a child can eat. If not all, at least part of it.

Take your children somewhere suitable for their stage of development and maturity - it really ain't that hard. When they're ready to upgrade, go from there.

But please, tame them first!!!!! :)
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

post #13 of 22
My children always ate out with us, whether that place be an upmarket michelin starred place or a greasy spoon.

Children are welcome everywhere in mainland Europe. Here in the UK they are often made to feel like lepers. I remember the god-awful 'children's room' in many cafes and pub dining rooms!

My children had impeccable manners, were expected to sit still for the duration of the meal. Exactly as they had to at home.

I'm with Bughut :lips:
post #14 of 22
My parents had 5 children under the age of ten..on special occasions; Christmas, Mother's Day, etc. we would all go to a "nice" restaurant. On this particular occasion we went to Old Original Bookbinders...we were so well behaved that the management gave my parents 1/2 off their bill. They told my parents they had never seen such well behaved children!

So it can be done. You can take your kids to a fine dining and expect them to act accordingly.
post #15 of 22
if you are interested, i got some more mother's opinions here:

Mother Talkers :: children's fine dining?
post #16 of 22
What I've learned from this discussion and the "stupid children" (gah!) thread in the Professional Forum is that in North America, that's considered bad parenting. If you have well behaved kids these days, you're obviously abusing them.
post #17 of 22
oh, for godssakes, that's not what i said. getting children to sit through a meal with their family is one thing. Making them sit hours after the meal has ended simply because they haven't eaten their brussel sprouts and d**n it, they're going to eat their brussel sprouts, isn't abuse- but it certainly isn't the most intelligent way to give them positive feelings about vegetables or food or family dinner time.
post #18 of 22
Agreed. Or you can take your kids to a fine dining place and demand the staff prepare the kid(s) something that is not on the menu, which is the point of the thread in the professional forum. It really is all about what parents expect of their kids.
post #19 of 22
Thread Starter 
Bug hut,

I do indeed believe that children are capable of dining with their parents and enjoying the experience. I believe that children should be exposed to fine dining and encouraged to develop a broad palate, when it is appropriate. My responses are due to the extreme concepts I saw in the other threads.

Extreme concept #1:
Children have no place in fine dining; don’t even ask me to serve them.

Extreme concept #2:
Children are always capable of fine dining.

Extreme concept #3:
If children are picky, finicky or desire the dreaded breaded chicken tender it is only because they haven’t been properly educated by their parents.

Children should be a part of the fine dining world.

More than “sometimes” children are not ready for all fine dining.

Children do have different palates than adults due to stages of development, this in and of itself is not the only barometer of poor culinary education.

There are always two sides (or more) to every story and the truth is usually somewhere in the middle. And the old adage that even a virtue can be a vice is especially pertinent here.

I agree that it is unfair to generalize, which is why I began this thread. All three of the “extreme concepts” I mentioned are generalizations and add nothing to a good discussion of several issues that are very relevant. Generalizations often lead to “bomb throwing” and name calling, which then leads to everyone packing up their crayons and going home none the wiser, without resolution and generally feeling pretty cranky.

It sounds as if you wisely and appropriately chose a marvelous way to raise your children. Wish you had been my parent. In fact, would you adopt me and send me a plane ticket to Scotland? J I’ll do the dishes and sleep in the closet under the stairs.

While I joke and often refer to my children as uncivilized heathens, they are very well behaved in public. The worst public dining experiences we have due to their behavior usually center around toddlers yanking on the table cloth and knocking over drinks. No amount of good parenting is going to keep an 18 month old from occasionally knocking over a drink. We have been able to maintain our success record by not taking tired children into public settings.

To all:

A discussion on how to achieve a reasonable middle ground that can have far reaching implications is what I am looking to foster.

We are all, apparently, from industrialized English-speaking countries. Those in the UK, Canada and Down Under will not have identical cultural experiences in comparison to those of us in the US. However, some things are universal.

You would have to live with the Uni-bomber or under a rock as opposed to mainstream America to not have to fight the insidious marketing of food that is as tasty and nutritious as a cardboard box and is engineered to have you coming back for more. Would you care for some green beans with your high fructose corn syrup? To boot, in this country we are collectively obese while simultaneously malnourished; a wonder of the modern world.

Children are particularly susceptible to the pervasive influence of marketing. I saw an article on-line about a study that proved how marketing is affecting children’s perceptions. The kids were asked to “taste test” two “batches” of chicken nuggets. Both were from McDonalds. One was in McDonalds packaging and the other was in a plain bag. Guess what, the kids thought that one emblazoned with the golden arches actually tasted better.

I would venture to say that anyone who is here is already ahead of the game when it comes to their children’s palates (and from the looks of it, their children’s behavior as well). I also don’t consider it going out on a limb to say that you all sound as if you have paid as much attention to your children as you do to the food you prepare. Kudos.

So where are all these misbehaved, wailing brats that eschew delicious well prepared cuisine (and their adult counterparts) who are the focus of discussion coming from? Well, they’re not my kids, nor bug hut’s, stellasmomma’s or Oregon Yeti’s. Given the number of times that we have all encountered this phenomenon it is fairly obvious that, on the whole, we (in this forum) as parents and our children are the exceptions. The “rule” are those we are complaining about.

It is okay to advocate a vast array of causes significant to the food industry: locally grown food (to cut down on oil consumption), organic foods (the environment), and humane animal husbandry practices (ethical treatment of animals) etc. etc. I just see another culinary cause in appropriately educating the coming generations, in light of our current societal failings.

How many of you vocally support locally grown, organic, humane food stuffs? If everybody were aware that these were the best practices and the benefits of doing so were broad and far reaching would you need to be so vocal? Probably not, it would be the norm, not the exception. So we as professionals, as well as citizens of the world, discuss these issues and take individual and collective action.

What I want to know is: How do we instigate change via “early intervention” in every day restaurant business practices to educate the populace (starting with children, because it could be the most logical place to start) without losing the essence of fine dining? But also without further perpetuation of what I call “the cult of the child” and maybe even help defeat such cult.

The cult of the child is when any argument is won by crying “it’s for the children” then the follow up practices are just more overindulgent inappropriate policies that do more harm than good and rarely have anything to do with actually helping “the children”. Exposure, experience and expression in the extreme are exalted (loving the alliteration) to the point that children feel entitled to things that are in reality far beyond their capabilities to handle. And anyone that feels that children need boundaries in areas that aren’t “X” rated is oppressive, unenlightened and quite possibly evil.
Furthermore, pushing children beyond the realm of childhood so that they can be put on display as “advanced” and engage in activities that are more like grisly parlor tricks than the accomplishments of a healthy child is lauded.

By the way, I blame “the cult” for producing the children and adults that irk me (and it seems some of you as well) so very much.

Is there an answer?
post #20 of 22
From my somewhat limited experience with other societies the answer would appear to be---less affluence.

From the little experience I have with nomadic subsistence living people, I noticed and confirmed via conversation that children under the age of 5 are often considered to be somewhat of a liability. As such, they are not cherished, idolized, worshipped and adored at all costs like children in affluent societies. Mortality rates are fairly high and the families/societies just can't become unduly emotionally attached. Beyond the age of 5 and there is hope the child will survive and thrive and more importantly become a part of the labor force of the society i.e. the child now has some semblance of value to the group. Its a far different perspective than we have in the United States.
post #21 of 22
I have bought nothing but organic meats for more years than I care to recall (at least 20!) - I also try to buy/eat, fresh veggies, in season. But, as Bughut will confirm, in Scotland that would mean only eating root veggies and some brassicas for a major part of the year - it would also mean not eating citrus fruits or bananas, so I'm not so paranoid about organic veggies :)

My children, brought up in Scotland, but we lived around the globe for much of their childhood, were always taught good table manners. In many countries where we lived or even holidayed, children were welcomed and even encouraged. This was not true of the UK (as a whole, with a few exceptions) - and frankly, looking at the manners of some of the munchkins, and their parents' apparent inability to ensure a modicum of good behaviour, I can't say I could blame some of the establishments.

I brought my children up with the same dining rules as we had when I was a girl. Anything in serving dishes on the table was there for anyone to eat. BUT, once it was taken from the dish to your plate - you 'owned' it and were expected to eat it. I never made an issue of it, they just KNEW the rule!

BTW - I never sat them down until they ate it, just didn't allow a pudding or a treat.
post #22 of 22
I take your well made point, and I happily get down off my soap box.

There are no spiders under the stairs, only cosy coats and you'll be very welcome. - Cant send the fare, but i hear there are many ways of working your passage...
All the best
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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