26 February 2011

The Fat Duck

If I had married Daryl for only his cooking, I would not have been disappointed. I grew up subsisting primarily on American cheese and cold hot dogs. When I was a toddler my mother was reduced to peeling my grapes, picking off each tacky layer of skin with her fingernails because she was afraid I would starve and she herself would be dragged in by Child Protective Services to answer questions about why my ribs were so prominent, why my knees so cartoonishly knobby.

My predilection for highly processed sugars and grains has continued to this day and causes my husband no small amount of chagrin. He would do better with Emmaline than he had done with me, he promised even before she popped out of my belly. He would teach her from a young age what good food tasted like.

Early on in our dating there was a night in a pub in the City Centre of Oxford - there were many such nights - and someone asked one of those oldest and most cliched of questions: If you were stranded on a desert island, who would you want with you? And my future husband looked at me across the rickety table cluttered with pint glasses and beer mats with such love in his eyes that my cliche ridden heart literally melted and he said, "It's totally between you and Heston Blumenthal."

So Emmaline has, from a very young age, been offered very complex foods in hopes of inspiring the development of a finer palate than I will ever be able to attain. She has dined on lobster bisque and sesame seared tuna, curried cauliflower and asparagus with Hollandaise. Not all of these have been accepted on first offering, but she has on the whole done remarkably well.

I would not have predicted it. But tonight she didn't flinch when Daryl heaped in front of her a pile of Thai ginger noodles that he scooped out of the wok. She picked one up and went for it. And to be a good role model, I did the same.

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