Charentais melons

Color Me Surprised

My oldest started high school this week. She's pretty close-mouthed with me, as a rule, but one bit of information she volunteered to the whole family was, "At school they have all these vending machines!" Well, yippee. I groused about fake food in plastic packaging that never went away and was digested by sea animals, a comment that got about as much attention as you might imagine from a fourteen-year-old. The good news is, she has this not-unusual aversion to spending her own money, so if I don't subsidize vending machine purchases, they're not likely to happen.

What I will subsidize is real, fresh, unpackaged food from our local farmers, and, at least in late summer, there's plenty to tantalize.

Charentais (French Canteloupe)

Have you had your first miniature, super sweet and juicy Charentais melon yet? My boy has a thing about only eating foods that appear exactly how he expects them to, which means he won't eat honeydew or white-fleshed melons because melons should either be orange or red inside. (And yet he has no objection to a violently-colored aquamarine Go-Gurt or Otter Pop!) Sigh. But he will eat Charentais melons, thank heavens, since they fill the color bill.

Just the right shade of orange

Not the right shade, but crunchy and tasty were Alvarez's yellow watermelons:

After one taste, the boy rejected this, but the next day, having had 24 hours to mull over the idea, he tried again and declared, "It tastes better today." Uh huh.

In an earlier post I mentioned the great variety of peppers, both sweet and spicy, carried at the Market. Check these ones out:

Sweet peppers aren't just stoplight colors!

I forgot to write down the name (raise your hand if you know it), but they're sweet and they're going in tonight's spaghetti sauce. The downside to their color, however, is that the boy will be able to pick them out, unlike when I use red bell pepper...

For you traditionalists, you can still find familiar food looking familiar:

Although I overheard that white eggplants are actually less bitter than standard purple ones, and I've seen those at the Market, too. So take advantage of both kinds--drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle on some salt and pepper, and grill. I'd even add some shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano or other hard cheese when it's nearly done. Mmmm... Works for zucchini and summer squash, as well, which are all over the Market, if not being dumped by the boxload on your doorstep by desperate neighbors.

In her book French Kids Eat Everything (which I mentioned some months back in this post), author Karen Le Billon writes about her year in France with her school-aged kids, and how the culture there is to expose kids to a variety of foods until they learn to like them. There are no vending machines. There are not even "choices" in the cafeteria at lunch. I remember feeling despair when I read the book because it was too late for me, and my kids were already picky about certain things, but I am here to say it is not too late after all. If my twelve-year-old can get over yellow watermelon after a 24-hour cooling-off period, there is hope.

Say no to the vending machines and packaged foods! Swing by the Market this week and throw something new and different-colored in your basket. When in doubt, grill it. If your kids want snacky foods to pack in their lunches, grab some jerky or kale chips or berries or cheese. Put some soft pretzels or hand pies in the freezer to reheat later. My kids may not eat everything, but I hope, before I'm done with them, they might reach for the handmade food first and the lab-made food last.