Once upon a time, there was a little girl who lived in a house with her mum and dad, little sister and two little brothers. She loved to read and loved to play outside in the garden, swinging on the swing and climbing trees.
One day her mum decided that enough was enough and that she was no longer going to make several meals at dinnertime to satisfy every fussy taste and that she was going to cook one meal that everyone would eat.
The little girl thought this was a good idea. Until one day, her mum served up her lamb chop with potatoes, carrots and a little green cabbage thing.
“What’s that?” she asked
“It’s a Brussel Sprout. It’s like a little cabbage and is very good for you,”said her mother.
The little girl cut it up and tasted it. It was disgustingly vile. “I don’t like it, mum. I don’t want to eat it.”
“You’re going to eat it. It’s good for you- and what about those poor children who have nothing to eat in Biafra?” replied her mother, with an edge of steel in her voice.
The little girl begged and pleaded, but her cries for clemency fell on deaf ears. Much crying, shouting and stubborness was displayed by both mother and daughter. Finally the little girl managed to eat the now cold Brussel Sprout, despite gagging as the last bits were swallowed.
Every time Brussel Sprouts were served the same scenario was played out, until one day it was decided that the children could dish up their own vegetables from serving dishes. The children in question were teenagers by this stage, but never again did a Brussel Sprout appear on the little girl’s plate. She also vowed that she would never serve up Brussel Sprouts when she grew up and had a family of her own.
And she didn’t.
The litle girl when she became a mum was granted a little boy who preferred pasta to potatoes (which is a treasonable offence in a family which is of Irish heritage), and a little girl who was just as headstrong as her mother, especially when it comes to food.
There have been no battles over Brussel Sprouts, but that didn’t mean dinnertime was not a battle at times. The little girl, now a mum herself, learned from her mum to cook one meal for the family, with reluctant eaters being cajoled and fed if they did not particularly like dinner. She also learned that the best way to get her children to eat was to make sure their likes and dislikes were taken into account when planning meals, and to encourage their involvement in the kitchen, either helping with baking, seeing what was cooking or standing at the sink, helping with the dishes.
She realised her mum was right when it came to encouraging children to eat everything on their plate, but there is no point in invoking a country which no longer exists in order to have food eaten.