Today I’m in the kitchen cooking with a person who has one of the most sophisticated palettes I know: my 11 year old niece Amiah. Since she has not yet learned the adult art of the polite lie, I can trust her opinion.
A lot of people don’t consider kids to be worth the bother of preparing a nice meal, but don’t underestimate them. Kids are picky eaters indeed with their idiosyncratic ‘rules’ for eating (my niece used to bite one end of a grape, and discard the other end. Her brother did not like nuts, with the exception of peanuts because “they aren’t really nut nuts”). However, I submit to you that adults can be just as persnickety. I don’t eat macadamia nuts because I don’t like the sound the nut makes in my ears as it grazes across my teeth (like nails on a chalkboard). I don’t eat avocados because the color and texture weird me out. And don’t even get me started on eggs.
Because of unprecedented access to information via the Internet and cable TV, kids today are far more aware of the world’s culinary offerings than when I grew up. I encourage every adult who has a child in their life to take advantage of this time in their lives and introduce them to new things while their sense of wonder is not jaded by life’s ills. In our family the standard rule is to try something once before you determine whether or not you like it.
Amiah can be excited about Taco Bell for lunch (she is a kid after all) and crab soufflé for dinner. She likes what she likes (unfortunately for my pocketbook she recognizes what a ‘nice’ restaurant is and what it is not). My humble offering for today is wild boar tacos braised in mole sauce. To sweeten the pot she’s playing video games on the big TV. I can’t exactly serve her wine to invite a more favorable review. Or could I?…nah, I wouldn’t be able to explain wine on her breath to her parents.
Since mole sauce has a number of steps, I began preparing it before my niece arrived. Mole is complex, and one missing ingredient can turn the tide considerably (found that out the hard way once). The recipe I use has various types of chilies (each one has its own wonderful part to play), almonds, pumpkin seeds, raisins, chocolate, and other spices (I think the recipe is not quite there yet which is why I didn’t post it).
Amiah’s rating system is either thumbs up or thumbs down. Rarely does she give a diplomatic thumb halfway.
First I give her a bite of the boar without the taco…”mmmm that’s good.”
“Is it really good, good-good, or just good?”
“Wait, is your good-good better than your really good?”
“Ok so you like it?”
Let’s try it on a taco.
Two bites…silence. The suspense is unbearable.
“Ok so is it good?”
“Better than the popcorn shrimp?”
“Better than the buffalo chicken tenders?”
“No. Can I go back to play video games now?”
I tried to explain how mole is made and all of the components that go into it (“it has chocolate!”), and what wild boar is (I made the tusks with my fingers and the squealing oink sound and everything. I was really into it); but, I totally lost her to NBA 2K15.
Not better than buffalo chicken tenders (few things are), but better than popcorn shrimp. I’m a half glass full kind of person so I’m counting this as a win.
Katrina Martin is the owner of Culinary Cupid LLC, part of Beyond the Pyramid Foods. When she’s not finding ways to exact her revenge on her siblings by way of their kids, she can be found offering in-home cooking lessons on various complex recipes.
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