One of the problems with gourmet ingredients is that so many people tend to assume that they’re really more for adults than for children. By seeing gourmet food and cooking in this way not only are people denying children the right to experience real, genuine tastes, but they may well be setting children up as fussy eaters.
Now don’t assume that by this I mean that families should head out and start buying crates of highly expensive gourmet ingredients, because that’s going to the complete opposite extreme. There is however a perfectly manageable happy medium in which families can help engage children with food and cooking in a positive way that may well have a lasting effect on their attitude towards food for years to come.
Indeed, often it is the habits and opinions we have based on our taste experiences as children which sets us on a fairly rigid track for the rest of our lives. So it’s important to get this right, whilst at the same time being very aware that this is not the time for overspending on lavish and unnecessary ingredients.
But to understand why gourmet ingredients can be made both affordable and accessible it’s best to consider a couple of examples. Clearly you’re not going to win your children over by serving up your best foi gras, nicely complimented by a side plate of wilted spinach. But this isn’t what gourmet ingredients are necessarily about.
For example, a worrying number of children actually seem to think that vanilla ice cream means ice cream without any extra flavouring. The same goes for yoghurt. It seems that so many children see vanilla not as a flavour, or even as an ingredient, but as an alternative word to ‘plain’. Why not for a change introduce children to a vanilla seed pod? Just showing them where the vanilla flavour comes from, and then using this in cooking, perhaps to make a cake, would get children to start thinking about ingredients and words a little differently.
Another idea is pizza, because almost every child enjoys this! By getting the children involved with making their own pizza at home you can introduce them to inexpensive gourmet ingredients and herbs very easily. You can of course make your own pizza dough (and there are several variations of this, including whole wheat crust) or you can buy pizza dough from the shop.
Ingredients to try include things such as sun dried tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, and perhaps some basil and olive oil. By using quality, fresh ingredients you can create a nutritious, healthy meal that tastes great, is relatively inexpensive, and helps introduce children to gourmet food in a way that could help set them up for life.