In a New York Times piece about the omnipresence of chicken fingers on children’s menus, David Kamp frets that offering kids nuggets and fries is dulling their palates, quashing their sense of adventure.
For Kamp, dining has always been a journey into the unknown:
I grew up eating what my parents ate, at home and at restaurants. Sometimes, the experience could be revelatory, as when I tried fish chowder for the first time on a trip to Boston, or when my mother attempted Julia Child’s Soupe au Pistou.
He approvingly quotes Tony Miller of Columbus, Ohio’s Latitude 41, who states that “We do grilled organic chicken teriyaki, a seared fillet of whatever fish is in season, and a four-once fillet of natural beef with smashed potatoes. I have not received a single negative reaction from adults or kids. Not one. The kids say ‘Man, that’s the best steak I’ve ever eaten!’ ”
Kamp also finds a chicken finger foe in Marc Murphy of New York’s Landmarc:
His own 3-year-old daughter usually skips the children’s menu at his restaurant, he said, and “eats the linguine alla vongole, with baby clams, when we run it on Fridays.”
If I ate out five nights a week, I’d certainly be worried about my 2 1/2-year-old’s love of chicken fingers. But then again, I’d also be worried about my own food intake, since restaurant food is invariably much fattier than what my wife and I cook at home. My feeling when we eat out is that it should be fun for everyone, including people at surrounding tables, and while I’ve never tried it, I suspect serving a toddler a plate of linguine alla vongole is the shortest route to a disastrous experience for everyone in the vicinity. People are absolutely right to worry about obesity in kids, and I’ll even spot Kamp his fretting about the dumbing-down of American cuisine. But lay off the chicken fingers, OK? It’s the only way I’m ever gonna get through some adventurous cuisine myself.