26 October 2007

Bread and Jam - and Frances, and Ellyn, and Jessica

Me: You're full of beans this morning.

Miss M.: No, I'm full of lobster.

I can only think that this is because we've been reading (and re-reading and reading again) Bread and Jam for Frances before bed. Because, after Frances remembers that there are all sorts of wonderful things to eat beyond bread and jam, she trots off to school with a lobster salad sandwich. Maybe lobster was cheaper in 1964?

Frances is often held up as a poster child picky eater, but it's hard to argue that she really is - her bread and jam kick doesn't even last two days. The book starts with breakfast, at which meal she chooses not to eat her egg - there is no indication that she's refused everything but bread and jam prior. At dinner that same night, she chooses not to eat her veal cutlet in favor of bread and jam - and confesses to having traded her lunch for a friend's bread and jam. At breakfast on the second day, she isn't offered an egg - because, her mother says, "you do not like eggs." At lunch on that second day, her friend has an elaborate lunch with sandwich and pickle and hard-boiled egg and fruit and dessert, while Frances has bread and jam. At night on the second day, when presented with bread and jam, she realizes that "What I am / is tired of jam" and so has spaghetti and meatballs for dinner with the rest of the family.

And on to the finale - her own complicated and elegant lunch at school, complete with doily, a tiny vase of violets, celery and olives, a tiny basket of cherries, and the afore-mentioned lobster salad sandwich.

Meals with our small child are the typical mix of cajoling and rejoicing. She'll scarf down risotto like nobody's business, but steak? Nah. Hot dogs and cheese sandwiches, yes. Peanut butter, no. Sometimes we'll resort to white lies: "This is Pat's chicken - she told me how to make it." [Pat's the cook at school.] The chicken in question was a butterflied charcoal grilled chicken, with all the black stuff cut off, and ketchup on the side - and Pat had nothing to do with it. And the kid ate that chicken.

Mostly, I've tried to take to heart the Ellyn Satter dictum: "The parent is responsible for what, when, where - and the child is responsible for how much and whether." She's not going to starve. Sure, I wish she'd eat some more vegetables, but I'm not going to start pretending that pureed cauliflower is ricotta and neither am I going to lace chocolate chip cookies with chickpeas. And hey, even fancy organic hot dogs are cheap! If she starts demanding lobster salad sandwiches, we're going to be in the poorhouse.


[This is loosely in response to the Parent Bloggers blast in connection with the release of Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld.]

17 comments:

niobe said...

Since I've already vented at length on my extreme hatred for that book, I won't say anything more except that I seem to remember that I disliked it so much that I actually gave it to my brother just so it wouldn't sit on a shelf in my bedroom.

Suz said...

I don't know how accurate this is...but I remember one of the cooks on the Next Foo.d Net.work star show mentioning that lobster used to be a cheap alternative to other types of seafood. I thought it was interesting at the time.

Julie Pippert said...

I am with you on that last para, and I like that sassy little response at the beginning. :)

Julie
Using My Words

Her Grace said...

I love, love, love Ellyn Satter. Love. Great post.

jen said...

ah, yes. sassy. i like it. but you know, i pureed that cauliflower and liked it. and then many of you brought up the deception in that, and the what have you, and now i am listening to that too.

Cynthia said...

Please send me your mailing address and what color combination you would like for your journal from my pay it forward. Thanks for commenting. I hope to have them mailed out soon!

Robbin said...

Oooh. I can sympathize. Right now, my son's food choices are starch, starch, and starch. The only "vegetables" he eats are tomato sauce and ketchup. And protein? Fuhgeddaboutit.

Whirlwind said...

See and I just posted how disappointed my daughter was that I didn't send her stuffed clams for lunch. Stuffed clams? With her sea food tastes, she's likely to eat me out of house and home.

Oh and when I make veggie breads - zucchini, pumpkin ect, I always tell the girls whats in it. No deception there.

flutter said...

I wish I was full of lobster

Teryn said...

I love Frances (so much that I don't mind rereading!), but her mom was definitely setting the bar pretty high with the lobster salad lunch.

I'm with you -- I think we do pretty well with eating, and we'll continue to do better. I don't think I need to puree spinach and sneak it into the pb&j.

Janet said...

I love that book.

We strive for the balanced week around here. Tonight for dinner it was carb-a-rama, perhaps tomorrow we'll have vegetables.

Furrow said...

Why don't I like lobster? Or why is it that everyone else does?

painted maypole said...

what, you don't send your child to school with lobster every day? what kind of parent are you?

(and oh what I would give it my child would eat a good old fashioned PB&J!!!)

BipolarLawyerCook said...

B & J for Frances is one of my very favorite children's books-- that, and the Sleepy Little Lion. I need to go read them now...

Aliki2006 said...

I love that book!

Zenmomma said...

I used to love reading that book to my kids. There was just something about all those different choices of foods.

MadMad said...

Oh, my goodness! Another Ellen Satter lover! It totally works - my kids will try anything, and eat all kinds of weird things, no problem. We're all allowed to have our dislikes, though - and I do think it stinks to be a kid: you never get to pick the dinner, just eat it or not, whether you feel like chicken or pasta or just some soup.