Food or Conversation - What Do Kids Want For Dinner?
Martha Stewart’s food guru, Lucinda Scala Quinn, suggests the way to get teens to the dinner table is to cook savory dishes. Apparently, the aromas and tastes should be so compelling, any teen would throw down their cell phone, drop their texting device, turn away from the game machine, and run to the table to eat with the rest of the family.
To which I say: phooey. Teens want connection. They want to be heard.
Look, I realize Ms. Quinn is trying to sell a new cookbook, so of course her emphasis is on food. But as a single dad raising teens, half-time, for a decade now, I can tell you it’s not gourmet food that brings my kids running to the table, allowing us to eat as a family.
It’s conversation. Talking to your kids at dinner is more important than what you cook.
First off, I admit I’m a decent cook. I can make pasta a dozen different ways, without opening a jar or cracking a cookbook. I was lucky enough to learn how to cook from my Italian mother-in-law, back when I was married. After my divorce, she continued to give me tips.
For instance, I know by cooking swiss chard, beet greens, spinach and broccoli with a bit of olive oil and garlic, the kids will genuinely enjoy eating their vegetables. And if you cook these vegetables ahead of the main course and serve them cold, they still taste good, and the chef doesn’t stress about timing everything to finish cooking at the same time.
Likewise, I know if I’m barbecue-ing marinated chicken, grilling salmon, or cooking up steaks – I can grill asparagus and corn and not have to do a single thing in the kitchen. Tips like these are life savers. (So is ordering the occasional pizza or take-out Chinese!)Continued on the next page