It’s What’s for Dinner

Like a lot of families, we usually have pizza on Friday nights. Growing up, we always had pizza on Friday nights during Lent because Catholics really, really like their rules. (We had it easier than my mom, though, because when SHE was young–with parents a lot more devout than she and my dad ended up being–she couldn’t have meat on Friday at all, full stop. Thanks, Vatican II!)

However, we’ve managed to become a family whose food preferences are so disparate that we all can’t eat the same meal.

For instance, on Friday nights, my husband gets gluten-free pizza and then scrapes the cheese off because he’s lactose intolerant. He adds the chicken tenders and sometimes ketchup and sometimes hot sauce, and voila, he eats his cheese-less pizza chicken burrito.

My daughter doesn’t like the gluten-free pizza so she scrapes off the cheese of the regular pizza and dips everything into ketchup.

This week my son decided he didn’t like pizza at all. He ate one chicken tender and called it a meal.

I eat two pieces of pizza and I put chicken tenders on a salad like a normal person. (I don’t eat eggs and potatoes unless they are salted and oiled into oblivion, and I’m the one in my immediate family with the most diverse palate.)

Last night, I’d reached my limit. I made tacos. Everyone likes tacos, right? My husband doesn’t like red meat and so I browned up some ground chicken, added the taco spices and cut up greens, onions and peppers. My daughter ate the meat in a tortilla.  My husband had the taco in a gluten-free tortilla. I had the taco meat on a bed of greens with the vegetables.

My son decided a few months ago he didn’t like tacos anymore. I had gotten some Morningstar bacon at the grocery store and cooked some so he could have it in a sandwich. He doesn’t like anything remotely resembling a salad, so it would just be the bacon and the bread and a banana to follow. I bet you know what happened next: he hated the bacon and requested the aforementioned accursed taco meat on bread. He ate the meat, then holes in the middle of the bread and then declared he was full, only to ask for snacks ten minutes later.

When I was young, my parents were not indulgent about food preferences, especially at dinner. You ate what was on your plate. There was no ordering off the menu, unless it was leftovers or a bed of greens, and that was after you tried what was on the table. I had to throw up my eggs multiple times before my parents understood that I really, really couldn’t tolerate them that well. (Potatoes technically were a side but I had to eat at least a mouthful.)

My husband is gluten- and dairy-free. He also does not eat red meat or fish of any kind. I’d gotten him to start eating pork about five years ago, but he’s shying away from that again as well. So when our children began to tell me what they did and didn’t like, I was all right with it, since their dad was so picky discerning.

Now, I feel everything has blown up in my face. Fed up with cooking three different meals, I told my husband and my kids if they didn’t like what I was serving, they were free to make their own dinner. As a result, my son sometimes has chicken nuggets (only the dino nuggets, he does not like any other kind of nuggets) four nights a week.

I keep telling myself that in five years this won’t matter; the kids will be mature enough to appreciate other foods, or eat at other kids’ houses and learn they like foods they thought they didn’t.

In the meantime, I’ll be over here with my 7 pm beer, recovering from cooking dinner.

It’s What’s for Dinner

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