When I was a kid asparagus was a food grown ups ate. Sometimes white and out of a can with a thick butter sauce. Or pale and pickled. Seriously gross. The puke green stalks I was served would inevitably be mushy and cold. My mum eventually learned to steam and compliment the spring bounty with a simple squeeze of lemon. Thank you to Barefoot Contessa, Nigella or those Eat, Shrink & Be Merry ladies. Whoever influenced my mostly German mother to go light also made me like asparagus. The love of simple and fresh is what I intend to pass on to Clover & Belles.
Asparagus, enter stage left. While it’s not yet spring here in the bitter north, the grocery store lured my future hubby into buying a handful of well travelled green stalks. He loves it. I love it. The children would also love it godammit.
In 12 steps, this is what it looked like getting our kids to like asparagus.
Step 1: While JMac finishes up the BBQing I snap the tough stalks at their natural breaking point.
Step 2: In a large frying pan bring about 2 cups of water to a boil. Add some salt. The water layer didn’t cover my green sticks.
Step 3: Steam/Blanch for a few minutes until the stalks are just a tiny bit crunchy but the tops are nearly done. Add a teaspoon, uh, ok a tablespoon, of butter. Salt, pepper and a half teaspoon of chopped garlic. yes, I used the kind from a jar. Let buter melt and garlic cook for a minute. I would have put some lemon juice over the batch if I’d had any.
Step 4: Plate immediately. Three stalks per child. Not too little so that they might think that YOU might think they wont like it but not too much as to overwhelm the plate.
Step 5: Here’s where it gets good. Sit down. Rave about asparagus. Smile as hubby raves about asparagus.
Step 6: Ignore children while they ponder the asparagus and dig into baked potato.
Step 7: Remind them how they used to hate potatoes and they should try the green trees as they are the first real vegetables to come out in spring.
Step 8: Watch Clover chomp a spindly green tree until it disappears into her Cheshire cat grin. Whoa, did that just happen?
Step 9: Try not to make a big deal as she ignores all else on her plate except the asparagus. Watch Belles eat hers without a fuss.
Step 10: Pick your jaw up off the floor as Clover asks for more asparagus. Feel stunned that you actually have no more to give her.
Step 11: Praise the children for trying something new. Rub it in their faces like this: “See we told you you’d like it! Your taste buds are always changing. You should listen to us more when it comes to food.”
Step 12: Take full credit for their expanding palates.
Okay, in all honesty it really is about YOUR attitude towards food. Cutting red pepper into hearts will always be overridden by your light hearted encouragement and patience. Keep introducing the foods you want them to eat. Familiarity and an explanation about how their tastes will change over time is working for us so far. Time will tell.
Not to brag but I also got the same reaction for the spinach I prepared in the exact same way. Woot.