This happened at our family dinner table just last night: My husband had made stuffed Turkish chicken, black rice, and asparagus with beurre blanc sauce. My picky eater daughter squawked because the rice was touching the chicken. So I moved it over and apparently got it too close to the asparagus and sauce. Never mind that the butter sauce was straight-up delicious and should have been poured over everything. Somehow, she steeled herself enough to still go ahead with the rest of her meal.
Granted, she is no longer a toddler, and I still remember the meal squabbles when she and her twin brother were younger and new food items were introduced. But even with those memories still vivid, I still do not share the enthusiasm Today has for this “genius invention” called the “Food Cubby”: little suctioned dividers that separate food on a plate for kids “who don’t want their foods to touch… at all.”
I can see that kids with hypersensitivity processing disorder probably could greatly benefit from these dividers. But for your garden-variety picky eater like my girl: Can’t you just use a bigger plate to keep the food separate instead of shelling out $14.95 (!) for these mini-suction cups?
One Amazon commenter highlights several Food Cubby advantages: “My 12-year-old son loves dipping in sauces (buffalo sauce and wings)—he loves the Food Cubby because it keeps his sauces from running all over the plate.” Fair, but a side ramekin would work just as well. Also: “My 1.5-year-old nephew is learning how to use his fork and spoon. The food cubby gives him an edge to push the food against which helps him get it on his fork.” Leverage is fine, but he’s going to have to eat without that backup eventually. But finally: “My 8-year-old nieces don’t like their food to touch. The food cubby allows them to create their own food compartments on their plate.” Sorry, that’s just a step too far.
Maybe this is because I have nightmares of my eventually grown-up daughter going out for a business dinner and ordering grilled cheese or mac-and-cheese, then pulling out a Food Cubby for her peas. Yes, she hopefully will grow out of this beige-food diet eventually, especially with parents like us who keep throwing food like black rice at her. But for teaching her how to eat in the real world, something like the Food Cubby certainly isn’t going to help.
When The Takeout spoke to Anthony Bourdain in 2016, one of the questions we asked was how to get your kids to be more ambitious in their eating. His answer:
Never try to get your kid to eat anything she doesn’t already want to eat. Just eat interesting stuff in front of her while completely ignoring her. Never, ever suggest “try it.” Never say those dreaded words “try it, it’s good.” Or worse, “It’s good for you.” That’ll poison the well. Eat interesting foods in front of her. If he or she wants to eat grilled cheese, fine. Let them discover it on their own and it will be their own little triumph rather than something you convinced them to do.
Which makes me feel a little better about the grilled cheese, at least.