Most of the time, we want our kids to eat what we eat, right? And most of the time, we work really hard to get them to eat what we put on the table, right?
It’s been our general philosophy that the kids eat what we eat. End of story. In our home, this has happened pretty much since birth. Both were breast fed, so they quite literally ate what I ate. Both had fewer jars of baby food than I can count on my hands. I steamed, mashed, pureed, froze. And now both eat what I cook or they don’t eat at all. Evidence the new chalkboard door as Exhibit A.
This has generally made for a happy and stress-free family food life.
However, there are some things that Kory and I jealously keep to ourselves. Things we don’t want the kids to eat because that means, well, less for us. And while we want our kids to have good taste, and to taste good things, some things we just don’t want to share.
One of these things is pimientos de padrones, grown by Happy Quail Farms.
Padrones are small green peppers, flash fried in olive oil, sprinkled with coarse salt, some are hot, some are sweet, all are addictively delicious.
They’re eaten tapas style. We eat them every week in the summer. We serve them at every party we give. We bring them as hostess gifts. They never fail to please.
Kory and I discovered padrones nearly the moment they were introduced to Happy Quail’s gorgeous kaleidoscopic stand of peppers nearly ten years ago, and like the rest of the fanatic cabal, we spoil ourselves on the bags of green gold weekly ($6) when they’re in season . As far as we know, Happy Quail is the only producer of true padrones in the area, and they supply markets and restaurants throughout the Bay Area. The legend I remember of their local origin, told to me by the farmer more than half a decade ago, is that a faithful Happy Quail customer, dining in Spain on padrones, decided that Happy Quail needed to culitvate them and smuggled back the seeds….
And so, for many years, Ella and Finn have seen the padrones on our table week after summer week after summer week. We haven’t offered them to the kids, or have done so only half-heartedly, in jest.
But the moral of this story is that it is absolutely true, that boring, old-fashioned truism that your mother and grandmother and all those expert books tell you: expose a child to something for long enough and she will eventually eat. Just leave it there on the table, within reach, within eyesight, eat it yourself. Just wait and see. I dare you.
Because one very sad-happy day, Ella ate a padrone. And there was no turning back.
And from that day on until the end of padrone season, If Kory & I didn’t get to the table fast enough, they’d be gone. Plucked from the plate like so many pieces of candy in the hands of a more normal child, they’d disappear down her gullet faster than she could say “Polly-Piper picked a peck of pickled….” The only good thing to come out of it (for me and Kory) was that our lovely pepper farmer presented Ella with her very own bag of padrones the next week at the market, with the benediction, “Welcome to the Club!”
Of course, this kind of growth is what one wants for one’s child isn’t it? A life full of education and opportunity and new experiences?
It’s wrong to hoard, I know. One is supposed to overflow with goodness, selflesslessness, and generosity for one’s children. One is supposed to share.
Whoever thought that one up probably never had a padrone.