Fava, it’s what’s for dinner: One night Yiayia prepared Fava (φάβα), a split-pea puree made with olive oil and lemon juice. Yiayia set the table and called everyone in for dinner. Our mom took one look at the Fava and said, “I don’t like it.” Yiayia asked her how she knew that she didn’t like it if she didn’t try it. Our mom emphatically said that she didn’t want it. Yiayia told her that Fava is what’s for dinner and she had to eat it. Our mom stood her ground and refused, so Yiayia told her to go to bed without dinner. Our mom left the table and went to her room.
Our mom came to the table the next morning, happy that fava-day was behind her. She sat down and, after Yiayia served everyone a breakfast of bacon and eggs, she placed the same bowl of Fava in front of Mom. Our mom was stunned. She couldn’t believe this was happening to her again…for breakfast no less! She refused to eat it and, again, she was excused from the table.
Lunch came around and so did the Fava for Mom. Can you guess what happened to this feisty kid? Yup, she left the table hungry.
As the sun went down, dinner was served. Yiayia brought out a Greek roast-chicken-and-potatoes dinner and placed the same bowl of Fava in front of Mom. By now she was being stubborn out of spite and she once more refused to eat it…and, once more, she was excused from the table. At this point Papou felt the situation was getting out of hand and he spoke up saying, “Give the child something else to eat. You can’t send her to bed hungry again!” Yiayia told him “You go out and work and bring home the money, and I’ll take care of raising the kids!” A.K.A., don’t mess with a Greek mother trying to teach her kids a valuable lesson.
Mom was now starving and when the bowl of Fava was placed in front of her that morning, she dove in, wiped the bowl clean with some bread, and asked for more. She actually loved it and, from then on, she ate everything that was placed in front of her, partly because she didn’t want to go through that fava-fast hunger again, and partly because she didn’t want to miss out on food that was actually good. Yiayia’s fava-fast was a bit extreme but it worked, and it sent out a message to all the kids that dictating what was on the menu was her job, not theirs—learning how to eat started at home.
Pass the Greek Veggies Please!
On the flip side, maybe the message kids are trying to convey is that the good-for-you stuff just doesn’t taste good.
We grew up loving veggies like broccoli, spinach, greens, and artichokes. We were clueless as to why the other kids didn’t. One day we had dinner at a friend’s house where they had spinach on the table. We took a hefty portion and it was awful. That’s when we realized that there’s something about Greek cooking that makes everything, including veggies, taste great.
A simple olive-oil-and-lemon dressing (Ladolemono) not only makes ordinary greens seriously flavorful, the citrus helps your body to absorb their nutrients. And how about Spanakopita? What a great way to enjoy spinach!
Joanne’s daughter Jackie has been eating it all since she was a toddler and now enjoys cooking it herself.
Bottom line: Add flavor to make foods taste good, make a one-bite deal with your kids, and watch them turn into mini-foodies right before your eyes.
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Kali orexi! Good appetite!
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