Most of you already know about my youngest child, a “selective eater” who is not [understatement alert!] so fond of the vegetables. Over the years I’ve shared with you my frustrations, my intermittent successes (including the recipes which have led to small breakthroughs) and my musings about the different approaches parents are often advised to follow with a so-called “picky eater.”
That’s why I was especially eager to read Stephanie Lucianovic’s new book, Suffering Succotash: A Picky Eater’s Quest to Understand Why We Hate the Foods We Hate. The book seemed like a perfect way to get inside the head of a picky eater, someone who could clearly articulate what she was thinking as she recoiled from certain foods, and maybe that knowledge could help me understand my own child’s eating habits.
In Suffering Succotash, Lucianovic vividly (and humorously) describes her intense childhood food aversions and clever coping strategies, along with her surprising evolution as an adult into an omnivorous foodie. Along the way she consults numerous scientific experts and fellow picky eaters (both current and former) to examine the issue of picky eating from almost every conceivable angle. Among the many topics she covers are “super-tasters,” gag reflexes, the role of genetics, the impact of emotion on taste perception, sensory issues, and “feeding clinics.” There’s even an interview with a sword-swallower!
And while I can’t say that reading the book totally clarified my son’s vegetable aversions (we might need a consultation with an expert for that), I do feel helped by it. Even though I know better than to pressure my son into eating something he doesn’t want to, in frustration I sometimes find myself doing it anyway. But after seeing the picky eater’s side of the dinner table through Lucianovic’s eyes, I have a new appreciation of just how stressful that parental pressure can be. I was also left with more empathy for my son’s food aversions and with greater hope that someday, like Lucianovic, he’ll move beyond his food fears.
I should note that Lucianovic writes with a chatty and at times digressive style, dropping numerous footnotes to share funny bits of trivia, going off on silly pop culture riffs, or addressing topics (like the sword-swallowing) which can feel a little beside the point So, depending on your taste and your reasons for reading the book, you might get a somewhat impatient as you search among the jokes for solid nuggets of information about picky eating. But it’s more likely that you’ll find yourself laughing out loud and enjoying the ride.
And now for your chance to win your very own free copy of Suffering Succotash! Just leave a comment below by noon CST tomorrow (August 2, 2012)*** to enter the drawing. You can tell me why you’d like to win or you can just say hi. I’ll use a random number generator after the comment period closes to select one lucky winner and if you comment twice (e.g., to respond to another reader’s comment), I’ll use the number of your first comment to enter you in the drawing. I’ll email you directly if you win and announce the winner on TLT’s Facebook page, too. Good luck!
*** UPDATE!! I inadvertently used today’s date, 8/2, when I meant tomorrow’s date, 8/3. So today’s winner (drawn from all comments left before noon CST 8/2) will get the prize copy. Then I’ll do another drawing from those comments entered between noon CST on 8/2 and noon CST on 8/3. That winner will get my own (slightly) dog-eared copy of the book but with a little consolation prize thrown in! Sorry for the confusion! :-)
[Blogger disclosure: As with most of my book reviews, I received a free copy of this book for my perusal. However, I never accept any other form of compensation for the book reviews you see on The Lunch Tray.]
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