Raising A Bilingual Kid: Pozole, Frijoles and Indian Curry

Niño disgustado

Every time we sit down to break bread it’s always the same thing.  I don’t want that.  What is that?  I don’t know what that is, so I don’t like it. If we happen to be eating something like menudo or nopales, anything unfamiliar to him that he is trying for the first time, Edgar will come up with any or as many excuses as he can to not touch it.  Immediately, the back and forth ensues.  Us arguing that he should just give it a try.  He saying that it won’t go down if he puts it in his mouth.  ¡Entonces no tienes hambre! …we’ll finally yell and he’ll take off, all upset, away from the table.

A couple minutes later, there he comes, ready to give it a try… or pleading once again to get a happy meal or something equally non-ethnic that he “knows” he will enjoy.

More often than not, unfortunately for him, Edgar won’t have a choice but to sit down and literally try to stomach as much of our food as he possibly can.  If we see he can’t take it, we’ll break down and make him a sandwich or something just as bland.

This is particularly bothersome to me because I am the first one to poor Valentina sauce on everything I eat.  “Food just doesn’t taste like anything if it isn’t spicy,” I always say, and I guess in a way I’d like for him to feel the same way about “our” food.  Mexican food that is.  It’d make me feel like I was doing something right if Edgar started asking for hot sauce with everything he eats.  Anjelica, my wife, on the other hand, would be horrified to learn her little boy was “turning into a man” by eating all that chile.  As you can imagine, we go back and forth.  She being more lenient about him eating what I want him to eat, and me always thinking of new ways that I can trick him into eating something new… that I want him to enjoy, even if it is only for my sake.

So far we’ve managed to get him to like pozole, frijoles, cóctel de camarones, flautas, even pupusas, Indian curry, Vietnamese pho, vermicelli, spring rolls, and a host of other ethnic entrees, not the least of which is any Chinese cuisine, by far his favorite.  The not so popular, still anything spicy.  Yet the other day when Edgar and I were driving back from running errands, we stopped in at a local taqueria to grab a bite to eat.  We both ordered a couple of tacos and some Horchata. When the waitress came back with our food, he sat there for a second, not saying anything, just looking at his plate.  What’s wrong? I asked with my taco in my hand, just about to take the first bite.  Pass me the hot sauce, he said, all cool, calm and collected, like I should have known better… that he likes his tacos spicy too.

After picking up my jaw from the table, I obliged, handing over the little molcajete of homemade salsa and watching as he took two tiny scoops and sprinkled them, ever so carefully, on all of his three tacos.

He didn’t pour nearly as much fiery goodness as I did, but I won’t pretend the tear in the corner of my eye wasn’t all about his bravery as my little man.  

This is the third post in the Raising A Bilingual Kid series.  To read the first two posts in the series, just click on the links (Raising A Bilingual Kid: Ballet Folklórico) and (Raising A Bilingual Kid: Skinny Jeans And Converse).

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15 thoughts on “Raising A Bilingual Kid: Pozole, Frijoles and Indian Curry

  1. Jiji! Edgar ya es todo un “hombrecito”, jaja! I guess every kid goes through that phase no matter the circumstances, no? It´s just part of growing up: complaining about food and not liking what your parents offer.
    For me it was growing up vegetarian: imagine sitting down and having to eat a block of white tofu on top of some whole grain rice and nothing else to give it some sabor. My poor parents where just learning about tofu and how to cook it! I tell you, I had to sit through many afternoons of tofu looking more “derretido” as time passed and me not budging. Now? I LOVE TOFU!!! jajajajaja!
    Un abrazo Compa! And please give Edgar my kudos on that swift salsita move. Mmm!!!

  2. I heart this post! … We have the same issues with our kids. They’ll go through phases where they’ll try anything or try to out-macho the other by eating spicy things, and then there are days when we get, “Can I just have a peanut butter sandwich? I don’t like this.” … adventures in raising a bicultural kid!

    1. Irma, thank you! I’m having a lot of fun with this series myself. Very happy it came about 🙂

      Sue, ufff… ya me imagino tener que estar comiendo tanto TOFU! My parents never went through that phase, thank goodness, lol! We were more chicharones and fideo folks, and there were a lot of foods that I could not stand as a kid. My most hated dish, MENUDO!! I hated the way it felt in my mouth all slimy and gross… but you’re right, now as an adult it is one of my favorite dishes, especialmente para las crudas. I think Edgar’s salsa episode was more about appeasing me than anything else, but it was still very emotional for me to know he would go to that measure for me 🙂

      Tracy, yes… estos cipotes, lol, are really an adventure to raise! One day Edgar is all for trying something new. The next he only wants a peanut butter sandwich, a soup or just a bowl of cereal. Hasta ahora we’ve managed to make him eat whatever we want him to, pero quien sabe mas adelante???

  3. Great story, Juan! I’m still cracking up over the “¡TRAGATELO!” I never had that issue but my sister did. She was picky about her food.

    I think I’ll yell that out 3-6 times on my drive home in a few minutes!

  4. Loving this, Juan!
    My daughter is actually obsessed with comida criolla. She would much rather get a plate of plátanos fritos con crema than chicken nuggets. She never eats as well as home as she does when we go to El Salvador. She devours the caldos, los estofados, las pupusas.
    Pero le tocó una mamá que no tiene mucho tiempo para cocinar. So I have a hard time feeding her appetite for traditional food!

    She does hate pica..as she calls it

    1. Love all the feedback! You guys ROCK!! And yes, raising a child, let alone a bilingual child, is quite the challenge… but it’s also a hell of a lot of fun 🙂

  5. I loved this post! We go through the same issues at our table.

    A couple of days ago, he devoured a Vera Mango paleta (which happened to be covered in about an inch thick of chile powder) and I almost fainted from disbelief!

    You son will end up loving the food eventually! I remember hating tomatoes, but now I love them. I think our taste grows with age…

  6. I loved this post! We go through the same issues at our table.

    A couple of days ago, our son devoured a Vera Mango paleta (which happened to be covered in chile powder an inch thick) and I almost fainted from disbelief!

    Your son will end up loving all the food he refuses now. I remember hating tomatoes, but now I love them. I think our taste grows with age.

  7. See?? I immediately came to visit!! Edgar sounds entirely delightful. My brothers are like this with our father… almost anything to please him. In our case Indian food 🙂

  8. awwww… ke bonito! I would be proud too …i like SPICY too… me gusta comer los chiles torrados con nieve! Mi hijo salio igualito..tien 18 meses y le gusta hot cheetos , sbaritas, y hot tamales.. pero no lo dejo comer tanto…after all im the one changing his butt still!

  9. Awww I know I’m late to the party on this one, but what a cute post! I was such a picky eater when I was young. My poor parents definitely suffered through every meal time with me. I always cried at dinner, “why can’t I just have a Happy Meal!”. I would’ve had that for breakfast, lunch & dinner if they let me. My, how my eating habits have changed! Now all I want to eat is ethnic foods, lol!

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