My paternal grandmother Gramma Edie was a good cook, not that it would have taken much to top MY mom's culinary efforts. She didn't own a refrigerator til the 50's, shopped daily, and it all had to be eaten. I grew up eating her bread puddings, knishes, blintzes, cabbage rolls, brisket, oxtail stews, and soups. The greatest of these was her corned beef and cabbage. The aroma through the house!
I learned SOME of her recipes, but my own culinary efforts are quite pitiful in general. Minnesota food is bland and white. Enter my son.
My son was a picky eater from birth. Apparently allergic to formula, he drank soy formula his first year, along with rice cereal mixed in as he was voraciously hungry. He adamantly refused any vegetable except corn, and grew up primarily on hot dogs, Kraft Mac 'n Cheese, and cereal. Don't know if he's short due to this or because he didn't inherit any height genes.
I continued making Edie's corned beef and cabbage, often substituting ham for corned beef. Same general idea. Quit offering it to Jon early, he had hot dogs. One day at about 5 years old, he came in the door from playing in the yard, and sniffed. "What's that smell?" The entire house smelled of corned beef and cabbage.
- Segue: Books. Jon was read to daily and at length, and partly due to this plus Sesame Street and Electric Company, was reading alone at 3. He loved Dr. Seuss in particular, always rooting for the underdog, the oppressed, the victim. He intensely disliked the fox in Fox in Socks. Thought he was a bully and a braggart. Cheered at the ending.
"Fox soup", I replied.
His face lit up. He wanted some immediately. He ate two bowlsful.
"Foxes taste good" he said as he ran back out to play.
He slowly developed a palate for good food, thanks to lots of Mexican cuisine in the San Diego area, plus a Cambodian babysitter. He taught himself to cook, and now is quite accomplished. One of his kids is picky, the other one not. We still call it Fox Soup, and there's a huge pot on the stove right now. House smells great.