But I still hold to the "chicken nugget theory" of kids' food (not to mention children's books, or any other kind of twaddle), which Jennifer Steinhauer wrote about last year in her Sunday NY Times article "Generation Pad Thai". Ms. Steinhauer lists some chefs' rules at home for making sure their kids "not only eat better [but are] better eaters":
1. Make your children eat at the table from a very young age. Jody Adams, the chef at Rialto in Cambridge, Mass., said that her children -- Oliver and Roxanne -- never had highchairs. "It was really hard, because 2-year-olds throw food. But I saw the benefit in treating the dinner table as something that was important and that everyone had to participate in."And if you want to take a page from Barbara Kingsolver, too, have the kids grow the vegetables for an infinitely better appreciation of the green stuff, even without brownies.
2. Make them eat what you do, even if you have to purée it. "If we ate butternut squash and carrots, so did they," [Hugo] Matheson said, "and sometimes with fish. I just really thinned it with cooking water." Grant Achatz, the chef and owner of Alinea in Chicago, treated his 4-year-old to a 10-course dinner. "He didn't finish everything, but he tried every course, which included white truffles, crab, bison," he said. Do not feel compelled to top this.
3. Pack lunches fashioned from leftovers. "If we go for Thai food," said Naomi Hebberoy, a chef and owner of the Gotham Building Tavern in Portland, Ore., her daughter, August, "takes pad Thai the next day."
4. Eschew Baggies filled with Goldfish. (Car rides are exempt.) "If kids are hungry, they're going to eat," Dolich said. "If you fill them up on Bugles, they won't."
5. Buy them the most expensive chocolate you can afford. Who craves Ho Hos when they've had Scharffen Berger? I do. But I wasn't raised on the good stuff.
Lest you think this is some culinary tomfoolery, these are the food ways our forefathers hewed to. "Historically, there was no such thing as children's food," said Andrew F. Smith, who teaches culinary history at the New School in New York. "Babies would eat what adults ate, chopped up, until Gerber created baby food in 1927." "Children's meals" didn't exist until the McDonald's Happy Meal came along in the late 1970's, Smith said, and only when snack-food producers concluded that their real market was children did they start sponsoring events and advertising in the 1950's.