When we want burritos, I soak the beans the night before, grate the cheese, and roll my own tortillas. I bake honey-sweetened, vegetable-packed muffins at least twice a week. We weaned our kids off frozen waffles by buying a waffle maker; my husband mixes waffle batter every few days. From scratch. I bake bread twice a week. We work hard to minimize the processed foods our children intake.
So, perhaps you will be surprised to learn that nothing would make my middle child happier than to eat twelve hotdogs a day. He adores pepperoni pizza, but he eats only the pepperoni, leaving the denuded and pockmarked remains of his feast in his wake. When we go out to breakfast, he wants sausage and pancakes. He eats the sausage, ignores the pancakes, and starts looking around the restaurant for bits of sausage left on other people’s plates.
He really likes encased meats.
Benjamin eats other things, too. He likes broccoli and apples and tofu and Peking duck and pretty much any other food with the not-hard-and-fast exception of spaghetti and Brussels sprouts. Other than his hotdog fetish, he’s a pretty healthy little eater.
His food vocabulary is remarkable, and if you list three ingredients, he’ll tell you what to make with them. Food is his thing. He loves food, and it loves him back. He is such a good eater that sometimes, when we lift his solid little body, we groan and joke, “You’re getting so heavy. I think we’re going to have to stop giving you so much food.” The child eats carrots in front of the television and every now and then requests cashews for lunch.
But his first, great love will always be encased meats.
Today, as I lifted my three-and-a-half year old to carry him over the deep slush to the car, he put his arms around my neck and murmured into my ear. “I want to stop eating ‘cased meats.”
“Yes,” he answered. “Because I want you to keep lifting me up.”