Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Tale of a Spoonful of Tahini (and a date)


It was one of those suppers you throw together late when everyone is a little tired and narky, the cupboards depressingly bare and only a few limp vegetables languishing in the fridge. See, I can hardly remember what we ate, I think it was omelet and maybe baked beans? Hmm, maybe, not memorable though.

We did have some dark, purple sprouting broccoli and it took pride of place on the plate, eclipsing all other elements of the meal and rendering them just background, padding. The tip of the broccoli was a deep dark green, bitter and soft. The stems were tough, but once the tip had been nibbled off the skin peeled back to reveal sweet, soft flesh. Lending the eating of the broccoli a meditative air.

However, Finley was not in a meditative mood and expressed his dislike of the bitter broccoli in no uncertain terms. Declaring that if he ate it he would probably die or be sick, or more likely indulge in a hissy fit. Oh Finley, we were all so tired and my resistance was low. I just wanted to clear the plates and slide gently into the evening. If there had been a carrot in the fridge I would have peeled it willingly. I'm no Victorian parent and I understand that there are times when we just don't fancy something.

Just then a thought sprang up. Fin needed to see one of us eat something we didn't like, to inspire him to eat the broccoli. It had to be a bet though; Fin is only six and six year olds just ain't that noble. A challenge that would reassure Fin that one of us had undergone a ritual humiliation at the hands of a nasty foodstuff. The only problem being that, other than the foods I am intolerant to, there is nothing in our kitchen, however esoteric, that I don't mind eating.

Now you may remember that there are a few foods that Nick considers unholy; dates remind him of a moth chrysalis, molasses is just too dark and bitter, carob he considers an insult to chocolate and tahini is something he will only consume well diluted in hummus. Yes, dear readers, I guess you could call him a little faddy about foods that I consumed in great quantities as a child growing up with the hairy ones in the commune. Date and carob slice with sweet tahini sauce anyone? Yum!

'Finley', I announced with an air of authority, 'will you eat your broccoli if Nick will eat a date and a spoonful of tahini?'

A wicked smile spread slowly across Fin's face as he perceived the possibilities involved in watching his father consume those items. His eyes glittered with cruelty as he started to cram the broccoli into his mouth, all of it at once, chewing and laughing with glee. A hard gulp later, he rose from the table to fetch a teaspoon.

He handed Nick the date and proceeded to scoop up the largest amount of tahini the spoon would hold; thrust it towards Nick with a triumphant look and resumed his position across the table, to watch the ensuing carnage.

Nick popped in the date and started to chew. As he chewed, a look of surprise came over him and he declared the date to be quite nice, toffeeish even. 'Aha!' we said together, 'we told you dates were nice!'. Then in went the tahini and it was also pronounced not nearly as bad as he remembered.

We cleared away the plates joyfully, feeling like everyone had learnt a little something here. Fin felt pleasantly powerful and we felt proud of ourselves for having played our way out of a potential mine field. Must get some carob in stock for next time I need to help Fin eat his greens......