Who would have expected that the tomatoes, squash, spinach, or brussel sprouts we grew in our gardens in the 40s would become the designer foods of the twenty-first century? We are old enough to have seen the importance of eating vegetables come full circle. In our youth we ate them because they were fresh and free from our gardens. Today we eat them because the nutritionists have given them preferred status on the food pyramid and our physicians keep us accountable. It’s even fashionable to be a vegetarian these days.
Vegetables aren’t always an easy sell, so it seems appropriate to discuss what I call resourceful camouflage: getting kids to eat vegetables without too much rebellion. V-8 Infusion has left most of my less creative, more obvious techniques in the dust, but let’s face it; where were those fruit flavored veggie concoctions when we needed help in the 50s-80s?
When I was growing up, aside from liver and onions which could never be disguised in any way, my mother prepared two foods I really didn’t care for: sauerkraut and turnips. Pushing food around on my plate to make it appear half eaten was never an option. We weren’t far removed from the depression and war rations, so clean plates were the rule. Since I would never be permitted to hold my nose while eating sauerkraut, I would put my mashed potatoes on top of the offending sauerkraut so I really couldn’t see it. Plus the neutral potatoes (which I loved) soaked up some of the awful acid taste of the sauerkraut.
With respect to the turnips, my mother automatically mashed them in with the potatoes. As far as I was concerned, that was unforgivable. I think she thought she was doing us a favor by disguising them. She never asked and I knew if I criticized I would become the full time family cook.
When I had children of my own, I didn’t serve sauerkraut or turnips – mainly because no one could stand the smell. I let the boys try all the other kinds of vegetables, and one son loved them. The other son only ate food in the brown food group so I put mixed vegetables in his waffles! I’m sure he never noticed. Now, to my amazement he has jumped on the designer food bandwagon and loves sushi! Obviously the press is more influential than his mother.