After asking listeners to send in their kids’ weirdest and most innovative culinary creations, host Dan Pashman and guest Hillary Frank (regular host of the parenting podcast The Longest Shortest Time) analyze some of the oddest submissions. The selections range from bizarre to delectable and often fall somwhere in between.
Pashman dives right in with his own daughter’s favorite breakfast combination: scrambled eggs and cherries. And he makes an earnest effort to treat this as a normal dish that someone might actually want to eat. He’s able to connect the dots to a parallel combination: cherries, he says, really aren’t too far from tomatoes. And scrambled eggs and ketchup is common, so maybe there’s some basis to his daughter’s creation after all.
Pashman’s most commendable quality remains his sincere ability to analyze any culinary creation as a blank slate. He’s almost scientific in his exacting and analytical deconstruction of these dishes. We hear a couple of surprisingly well thought-out food pairings before Pashman eventually gets to something that even he can’t quite wrap his head around: hot dogs topped with grapes and peanut butter.
He doesn’t totally dismiss the idea but admits the peanut butter really seems to come out of left field. Maybe it’s a nice mortar for the grapes that also provides some textural contrast? (He admits that’s a stretch at best).
Though apparently even some adults swear by this combination, I can’t say I will ever have the courage to join in. Like most humans, I have vomited before, and I tend to steer clear of any potentially vomit-inducing food creations. But maybe that’s the boring adult in me. Kids are different. Especially younger kids. They love to consume things that could induce vomiting, just for fun. And who am I to say that isn’t a good, even necessary, thing that will push the culinary envelope.
Pashman also discusses the importance of plating and asks if the presentation of food can affect taste. Chefs of all ages recognize the importance of how their food looks. They just go about it in different ways. Making food fun seems to be the common thread that ties chefs of all ages together.
Personally, these kids’ creations just lowered my self-esteem. Most of them seem to at least be trying to make their food taste better. When I was their age, I was all about making food worse—even the food I didn’t make myself. Don’t even get me started on the abominations I cooked up as a kid. I still can’t look at Strawberry PopTarts the same way.
Of course, kids who make bad food get a pass. Adults who can’t cook on the other hand, that sometimes borders on criminal. Hillary Frank, Pashman’s brief guest, recounts her brief and unfortunate adventures with a childhood friend’s mom’s Swedish meatballs (spoiler alert: They were NOT from IKEA).
So maybe we should just leave our cuisine to the kids. Life would certainly have a little more spice to it. (Feel free to blow by that terrible pun). It’s certainly important to allow some freedom for children to express themselves in their cooking. The ways in which children interact and think about working in the kitchen parallel other aspects of their lives and development. Encouraging their natural adventurousness and unique thinking can go a long way. These are qualities that we tend to lose as we grow up and settle into boring 9-to-5 monotony.
Seriously though, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a Michelin Star restaurant somewhere that’s exploiting children for their creative genius in the kitchen. Professional chefs tirelessly work to think outside the box to develop new recipes and techniques to attract diners. Children, they don’t even have a box. They already ate it.
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