On toddlers and experimenting with food

My boy has been a fan of sushi since day one. Well, not quite day one, but he’s been eagerly munching down on sushi almost as long as he’s been eating solid food.

Mind you, we stick to the vegetarian or cooked tidbits for him so we can avoid any issues with parasites.

His tastes vary from being a veritable garbage compactor, capable of wolfing down any remotely-organic, and possibly otherwise repugnant material within reach, to princess-like daintiness, so fussy he can eat nothing more than a wafer cracker served on a platinum plate served with a side of Himalayan peach jam carried across the Atlantic on the back of a golden raft pulled by penguins. Bringing home a box of takeout inevitably leads to an excited dance, lots of jumping around, and a constant stream “SUSSI! SUSSI! SUSSI!” joyously blaring through the house.

Tonight, he noticed the bright green glob of grainy goo on the platter for the first time. We typically encourage him to try new things, but when he eagerly pointed to it and announced: “Ça! (That)”, we thought he might actually benefit from a little moderation. Wasabi is definitely an acquired taste, and goodness knows how potent it is to young taste buds. Heavens knows it packs enough of a kick for a grown up, never mind the firestorm it could unleash on sensitive papillae. He insisted on having a taste anyway.

Now, there are few moments in life where one can go about their business and truly regret not having been there to see it. I was up by the sink preparing a cloth with which to clean my boy up when my lovely spouse gave him a healthy dose of the green stuff. This was one of those moments. I wish I was five feet from where I was with a camera. Heck, a whole recording studio with James Cameron filming in 3D would probably have been appropriate for what has been reported to be one of the most memorable facial expressions to be produced by a human being in the past thousand years. And I missed it.

Apparently, it took about two seconds of happy chewing before he noticed something was wrong. Then, a little shudder, a faint but rapid quivering of the eyelids, followed rapidly by a slight flushing of the face. “Thbptbpt!” A quick spit to get rid of the offending condiment. Hands flailed hysterically for two to three seconds. He then frowned, pointed intently at the wad of wasabi waiting patiently on the tray and proclaimed:”Pas ça! (Not that!)” His cute short form for I don’t like that was unmistakable.

The wasabi sting rapidly faded into the background thanks to the timely arrival of a maple cookie for desert. Nothing but smiles and giggles from there on in.

The road to culinary appreciation is paved with failed experiments. Time will tell whether he’ll be back for the green goo of gasping any time soon.


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