Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Chicken Soup for the Black Woman's Soul

My son Jalen is the pickiest eater alive. Mrs. Bootleg is always attempting to introduce the boy to new foods, but given the choice between a loud, tearful test of wills between these two midgets (new readers: my wife is 4'8"…seriously) or a peaceful dinner after 10 hours in the catacombs of the Unnamed Defense Contractor, I'm inclined to acquiesce to the kid and heat up some leftover pizza.

Wednesday night, I came home to find our kitchen in ruins and Jessica Seinfeld's Deceptively Delicious cookbook on the counter. For those that don't know, this is the book that takes dozens of quick, simple All-American dishes and adds two hours of prep time to each one through the use of fresh fruit and vegetable purees. These healthy ingredients are ostensibly "hidden" within the cookies, cakes and quesadillas – while the kids can't tell they're really eating crap like beets and butternut squash.

On the menu for this evening was some kind of fresh chicken alphabet soup. Instead of the "one can and a saucepan" version that I grew up with, Mrs. Bootleg had pulled out every pot in the house for this inevitable failure. She'd boiled the pasta in one, cooked the chicken in another and combined the two in still another. The recipe called for pureed sweet potatoes and since they have to be boiled before you can blend them…well, you get the idea. A delicious whip of liquefied cauliflower completed the meal.

Mrs. Bootleg meticulously combined all the ingredients and brought the boy to the dinner table, but she made the critical mistake of promising him "something new". Predictably, this led to Jalen quickly latching on to one of the few things he will eat and repeating the request over and over. For those scoring at home, "hot dogs" topped his short list here. We went back and forth with the boy – even sent him to his room for a spell – before he finally emerged and made the declaration, "I don't WANT healthy food, I want REAL food!"

My wife is livid, I'm unable to stifle my laugh and 20 minutes later Jalen's enjoying a steaming bowl of Kraft Easy Mac.

That was MY idea.

Three minutes prep time.

He finished every bite.

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