Thursday, May 15, 2008

I’ve grown a food snob

My toddler is a foodie. So much so that a threat of losing her cooking shows on Food Network is the ultimate punishment, so much that the waterworks immediately begin to flow. Even though she actually only watches something once a week, it's the thought that counts, and cooking shows with her dad rank No. 1 in her book.

She knows the difference between rosemary and basil and believes that tomatoes make her “sad.” She thinks baking is great and toying with the salad spinner is great fun.

So it’s no surprise she’s already getting discerning tastes in her farmer’s markets too.

It’s finally time for farmer’s markets to begin sprouting in Indiana, and we’ll be blessed with stands of tiny sprouts of plants begging to be bought. In another month, we’ll get the first of the summer’s bounty: likely lettuces, tomatoes and peppers.

Yet the other morning, my toddler, on her way to daycare, mentioned she wanted to go to the farmer’s market with her friend. I said it had rained the day we had planned to go (true), but maybe we could go to a different farmer’s market on Saturday, when the local market opened near our library.

No. She already knows the difference, and let me know. She knows that the “farmer’s market” in her eyes has a barn, where the winter market resides. That there are cows to watch and chickens to chase. That if she’s exceptionally good, we’ll spring for ice cream to share at the dairy bar. That she can get meats and eggs and some kind of produce or grains virtually year-round. Yes, she knows the difference between her “farmer’s market” 40 minutes away and the just-around-the-corner version.

Yes, I have a food snob. But I consider her lucky.

I grew up a city girl, and while we had a garden, it was tomatoes, which I refused to eat, and bell peppers, which my dog would eat. We never had the luxury of a farmer’s market, and the produce we ate was typically canned, frozen or as fresh as it can be languishing in the grocery store and the bottom of the fridge. Salad was iceberg, drenched in cheese, a sprinkling of mushrooms and dressing.

My toddler is different. She couldn’t get enough of sweet potatoes and squash as an infant. She was sucking out the insides of grilled asparagus before she was one. She thinks there’s nothing cooler than examining the bounty and colors of the farmer’s market in the summer. And I’m determined to make sure she knows that fresh and colorful is the best way to eat. If that makes her a food snob, so be it.

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