I have quite a few new followers (thank you, thank you, thank you) and thought it was time to update everyone about the dinner game I play with my family and what we have gained from it.
Almost four and a half years ago I was tired of cooking. I didn’t want to cook dinner anymore. We were stuck in a rut of hamburgers, tacos, spaghetti, and hot dogs. I had given up. My son is a person with Autism and was very picky about what he would and would not eat. He had texture aversions, smell aversions, and was heading towards the beige food only way of eating. I wasn’t much better. As a child I never had to try new foods so I never had broccoli until I was in my junior year of college, hummus until I was in my 30s, and grape leaves until I was in my (gulp) 40s. I love all those things now but because I never had to try anything new I had a tough time trying them as I got older because in my mind they were “yucky.” I didn’t want my children to be like me.
So, I started a game and a blog to hold me accountable. When I started the rules were very strict:
- No repeating dinners for one year.
- Post a picture the next day no matter what the meal was
- Give a recipe, review, or information about the meal
We started off really well. The kids were really into it. We would research countries or ingredients for meals. The kids wanted to try different things especially when they were in on the planning. We made center pieces for themed meals or dressed up for special meals (complete with my son in suit and tie). Everyone was trying new foods including me! I gave them control by allowing one food each that they did not have to eat or taste. My daughter chose onions, my son ricotta cheese, my partner chose tuna noodle casserole and I chose peas and strawberries. I hate peas and had a bad incident with strawberries when I was young so I got two.
I also made the serving of new foods a tablespoon to start with making sure there were plenty of other items on the table that they would eat. They did have to eat the one tablespoon before they could get more of the other items they preferred. Most of the time once they tasted the dish they wanted more but occasionally they only ate the one tablespoon before asking for more salad, potatoes, vegetable, etc…. To set a good example I ate the tablespoon of non-preferred items to. I found out I liked so many more things than I thought I did or would at least tolerate more items. Raw vegetables are still not my favorite item but I can eat more of them than I ever did before.
Then I helped the family with words that are appropriate to use when critiquing food. We made this into almost a network food show. You cannot say something you taste is “yucky” or “gross” while you are at the dinner table. We talked about texture, taste, plating, and temperature of the food. Appropriate things to say could be – “I don’t care for the texture of the meat it is too tough, chewy,etc…,” “The casserole is a bit bland and needs more salt, pepper, garlic, etc…,” or even “I don’t know how to make this better but it is okay and edible.”
Then life happened. We moved 2 times within one year. One of those moves was 600 miles away from every one and every thing we knew. It was tough. We tried to keep the game going as best we could but for about a year the game was put on the back burner. But about three years ago we finally hit our mark.
We modified the game a bit because the kids missed having their favorite meals again and wanted traditional meals on their birthdays or holidays. So, we made the game that we would try to serve different meals on weekdays. We could revisit family favorites on the weekend if they wanted. I would get better about adding recipes to the blog so we could remember how we made a meal in case we wanted to make the meal again.
Well, after four and a half years my family and I have blossomed. I have two fearless tasters. When my daughter went to Germany last year she was one of the two students to try the ox for dinner one night. My son has turned into a little foodie. We have to sometimes tone down his critiquing but I love that he uses the words and ideas we have given him. I happily eat grape leaves, feta, gyros, and moo shu. These are items I would not even have entertained eating before. I think my blog helped all of us.
Now my blog is about my family, keeping our game going as much as possible, and the adventures we have along the way. I can’t wait to see where it takes us in the future! Thank you to each and every one of you who follows along. I hope you know how much I appreciate your comments, questions, and likes that we have received along the way.