Something that used to mystify me living here was how all the kids seemed to eat vegetables, more or less without quibble. I remember watching a 5-year-old and his 3-year-old brother eating raw octopus like candy. Wow--how do they do that? I *know* I wouldn't have eaten octopus when I was 5...or 15... so how do they *do* that? Mostly, I think, lack of pressure combined with "allowing" kids to eat what the grownups are eating. But more than that, they tend not to overcook things (obviously not in the case of sashimi), especially vegetables. They also tend to let kids learn to like things in their own time frame, which, now that I think about it, is pretty much what my mom did and the reason I can eat a wide variety of foods now. Thanks, mom! I know there were times she despaired of getting me to eat this or that, but she gave up, finally, on asparagus. I didn't like asparagus till I was 23 or so. The first time I came home and chowed down on asparagus, I thought my mother was going to collapse in shock. "What?! You don't *like* asparagus! You *never* liked asparagus!!" Why did I suddenly decide I liked it? Lack of pressure combined with a different dippy sauce, I think. So keep the faith! My mom's trick for getting us to eat spinach was to use it raw in salad without telling us what it was until *after* we ate it and said we liked it. Which worked pretty well--I still like fresh spinach better than iceberg in a salad (good one, mom!).
I never cared for cooked spinach until I tried it in Japan. Here's the receipt that my kids eat like candy (really!):
Goma Horenso (Sesame Spinach)
One bunch spinach, washed
2Tblsp ground white sesame seeds
1Tblsp (scant) soy sauce
Boil the spinach for 30 or 40 seconds (stand there and count so it doesn't overboil and taste gross), dump water, rinse in cold water
Squeeze out as much water as you can, then cut the whole mess into 1/2 inch pieces
In the serving bowl, combine the ground sesame, sugar, and soy sauce (last). Mix to form a paste.
Put in the spinach and toss around in the sesame paste until it's all more or less coated
Lick fingers and wash hands :))
You can adjust the sugar amount to taste, or probably substitute Splenda (I don't have any over here, but I don't imagine it would taste any different).
I'm still thinking about how they get kids to eat so many different things. I'll write about it when something comes to mind. Till then, I'll try to post some easy receipts that I've had good luck with. Try the spinach--it's really good!
Mata asobou, ne!
p.s.--I forgot, you can use the sesame paste on fresh green beans (goma ingen) or broccoli:))