I grew up in a house where paprika and Lowry's seasoning salt monopolized the spice cabinet. Sure, a few other flavor enhancers hung about, like those ersatz plastic lemons with the juice inside, but balsamic vinegar, wasabi paste, and fresh salsa hadn't yet reached the suburban New York masses.
And who complained? Certainly not I. We just ate how we ate.
Colin and I arrived in Eritrea in the summer of '95 and moved in with a host family. Two-year-old Numa would tear off a square of injera and dip it in the red-hot berbere. Her face would break into a wide smile, her little fingers reaching for more. It took weeks before I could eat the fiery sauce without sweating, or staining my shirt.
So it is with these dual and diametrically-opposed contexts that I often wonder what kind of food culture I'm providing my children, and how they'll look back on the foods of their youth. You can't deny that parents' likes and dislikes heavily influence the types of foods to which they expose their kids.
Years from now, when my boys have their own blogs and write about me, what will they say?
"She made us eat soba noodles, with tofu!"
"She stirred peach-chipotle salsa in the taco meat!"
"She used whole wheat flour in the scones!"
"She served brown rice!"
Will they mourn the absence of roasts and buttered potatoes? Bemoan my use of Dijon? My penchant for ginger and lime? My fondness for coconut?
I have these thoughts, shudder, and then move on, adding more lime to the carrots, more ginger to the slaw.
Recipe for Zippy Carrot Ginger Slaw
This light and refreshing salad hits a lot of big flavor notes and relies on sweet and very fresh carrots. If you can find different colored carrots at your market (I found white ones), give them a try. Moist Medjool dates are worth seeking out as well.
Makes 3 cups, or roughly 4 servings
12 ounces carrots (about 4), orange, white, purple, or a combination
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
3 plump Medjool dates, pitted and very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons grated natural (unsweetened) coconut
2 tablespoons lime juice
Shred the carrots in a food processor, then transfer to a medium salad bowl. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Serve immediately, or refrigerate and serve very cold.