JULY 2009  

When my son Nick and I find the time to meet up these days, he will usually confess to falling off the vegan/vegetarian wagon with a culinary digression or two.

“I just had to have a piece of chicken, Mom it just looked good.” (Chicken won’t kill you Nicholas.)  

This statement is then usually followed by a description of something else he’s eaten.  In this case, a mozzarella and eggplant sandwich.

“I bought it at the college cafeteria and it was still $11!  Isn’t that insane?” (Yes, Nicholas.)    

Guess what I’m eating,” he would often call me, knowing I was easily amused by his eating habits and loved to torture him by saying things like: “A hamburger?” 

Close.  Smoked salmon on a bagel with cream cheese.”  (Fish and dairy; he must be having a bad day.)

“Do you know I paid 87 cents for one banana?” he called to tell me one day. (Again in the college cafeteria.)

“What happened to all the fruit vendors on Lexington Avenue,” I countered. 

“I don’t know, it was raining and I didn’t want to go outside,” Nick sighed. 


There lies the true answer I think to many of America ’s food and cooking issues.  We’ve just become a nation of lazy people – too lazy to grow our own vegetables (however humble), too lazy to food shop, too lazy to cook, to lazy to watch what we eat. So if the weather’s bad or any other factor is involved, it’s just easier to pay more for something (a banana) that should cost pennies or reach for something (junk food) that satisfies our immediate hunger. 


Ok, so Michele Obama has planted a garden in the back of the White House and she gets a bunch of D.C. school kids to help her out.  It’s an outing for them.  Will they see the herbs and vegetables that come out of that garden as a different and healthier way of eating? Or is it more like a science project?  (Let’s measure the zucchini boys and girls.) 

If no one is cooking in their households, it becomes even more of a challenge for them to learn to eat healthy and cook even healthier. (By the way, taking a frozen lasagna out of a box is not making a homemade meal even if the box says “homestyle” on it.) 

Obviously food is a big deal in our house.  And Nick and Rachel will always make me laugh especially since so much of their lives involve food stories.


The first summer Rachel worked as a camp counselor, her tales of picky four-year-old eaters gave us much to think about.  We were traveling that summer and besides dealing with young campers she was also “bunking” with Grandma and Grandpa at night.

“Hello,” she whispered into her cellphone as I called her from the road.

“How are you?” I asked.


I tried not to mention we were having fun because I knew her camp job was grueling.

“What did you do today?”  I tried to sound upbeat.

“I had a fight with the camp cook.”

“Why?” I asked.

“I told them I needed four “Koshers,” two “Glatt Koshers” and Cooper’s lunch and they flipped out.”

I tried not to laugh. I wondered what kind of special meal deal this kid Cooper’s Mom had swung with the camp.  Grilled salmon with fresh asparagus?  Nitrate-free BLT’s on homemade wheat bread? Fresh mozzarella and tomatoes?

“What’s wrong with Cooper?” I asked.


I forgot to tell the cooks that Cooper wanted chicken rather than a bagel,” she said.


“So?” I wasn’t following her.

“He only eats certain shapes.  His chicken nuggets need to be cut up a certain way or he won’t eat them,” she continued.

“Oh,” I said.  I was so disappointed. I should of known; yet another kid with a food phobia.  I sighed.

“When are you coming home?” she hissed.

Besides hating her camp counselor job, she despised staying with Grandma and Grandpa even more. 

“Hold on, say hi to Daddy,” I said quickly, handing her father the phone.

At night before I fall asleep, I sometimes hear Nick’s voice.  “Today’s specials include a soy glazed mahi mahi that’s been swimming in water contaminated by the chemical run-off from a large pharmaceutical company with a wasabi drizzle topped with fried leeks that have been dug up by illegal farm laborers who have no bathroom privileges.” (Thank you my own little private anarchist.)

Luckily between the four of us, there aren’t a lot of food “issues” otherwise we probably wouldn’t be able to eat (together at least) at all! 




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