Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Skinny, Skinny Boy

My son is comically thin. His skinny legs poke out of his soccer shorts, long and bony, and his knobby, scraped boy knees are the fattest part of the whole leg. T-shirt sleeves gape around his narrow arms. With his shirt off, it looks as if we starve the poor kid when he’s bad (although, with aggressive food program and his mother saying "Eat! Eat, you look so skinny!", it no longer looks as if his ribs will actually poke through his skin). You would think that we regularly say: “Didn’t finish your spelling homework? No food until the weekend!”

And yet his list of favorite foods* reads like a Who's Who of Things That Will Make You Fat:
1) Cheese. All kinds, but especially over-priced goat cheeses (chevrot, crottin du chavignol, that’s you I’m talking about), and Beecher's flagship

2) Bacon. Mmm. Bacon. Hard to blame him. He’s also game for prosciutto, Serrano, pancetta (but not peppered). He’s coming around to the joys of Spanish chorizo, but I don’t want to talk too much about it for fear of jinxing it.

3) Chocolate. Pain au chocolat, éclairs, plain, in puddings, you name it, except on orange peels and the like (and, as unsophisticated as it makes me feel, I’m with him on that one). He’s very Sam I Am about chocolate. In a box, with a fox, etc, etc.

4) Bread. Technically, not fattening, but since his favorite way to have it is as bruschetta semplice, broiled, rubbed with garlic, sprinkled with salt and then completely drenched (and I do mean drenched. He looks like he took a bath in it when he's done eating) in olive oil… it qualifies. He loves toasted baguette with butter and jam for breakfast (which is how he reveals his genetic connection to me).

5) Potatoes. Again, technically not fattening, but when your favorite way to have them is pan fried in olive oil with rosemary, garlic and salt, we are not discussing a meal that is low in calories

6) Did I mention cheese? Cheese. The way to that boy’s heart is through cheese. As a special birthday treat, I let him pick several painfully expensive cheeses, and seriously, the boy could not have been happier.

7) Ice cream. He’s eight, for crying out loud. Of course he likes ice cream. And gelato.

And yet: knobby knees, protruding ribs, gigantic new teeth (going every which way, because both of his parents had braces for good reason) that are oversized for him right now. And skinny, skinny arms and legs. Pinching an inch on that kid would be a challenge. And if you tried, his mother might break out her hockey stick (pink. a gift from the kids.) and demonstrate a good cross-check. Which is illegal and a poor demonstration of sportsmanship, so let's not go there.
So today, thinking about how skinny he is, and how unremittingly grey it is, and how much that puts a girl in mind of chocolate, I bought Curly and my boy chocolate pots de crème (or would it be pot de cremes? I have no idea, and spell check won't confirm that for me) from Bella Dolce on Madison. Which, I might add, is a sweet little bakery well worth stopping by. It doesn’t have the selection of the Essential Baking Company a few doors to the east, but they do very nice, very homey baked goods. No overwrought, heavily decorated chocolate mousse pyramids at Bella Dolce. Just good pastries, done like you might do them at home. If you had the time (which I didn’t) or inclination (which I often don’t). Is pot de crème a snap to make? Well... yes. But, I didn’t have time. I needed to get to school for pick-up (because even those feckless among us, and I am one, do not come late to pick up elementary school students from school), and there wasn’t time to make one from scratch. But there was a parking space smack in front of Bella Dolce, and I had a little cash in my wallet, so I peeked in to see what they had that didn’t have nuts and came out with two chocolate puddings.

I don't have much in the way of photos. It is damp and chilly and very, very grey here. I am resisting the urge to hibernate (with a healthy stash of chocolate). Possibly contributing to my urge to hibernate is the fact that I am fighting something off, possibly something shared with me by, oh, half a dozen germy girls who like to pig-pile onto their coach. After soccer practice was over, one of the parents mentioned that croup had visited their house. I refrained from saying "You could have told me this BEFORE your child wiped her nose on me," because, really, it was too late. The snot-foul had been committed some time before. And besides, before I could get snarky and indignant, another parent said something along the lines of, "Us, too!" And a third said, "You guys, too? We're struggling with something like that."
And I thought: doooooooooooom.
*I should add that this is his current list. Until he was about 14 months, my boy ate anything. And I was sooooo proud. I would chirp that to get a child to eat well, you "just" had to give them what the adults were eating, chirp, chirp, gloat, gloat. And then I ate crow for the next five (plus) years. Because the list of what he ate was as follows: 1) milk. 2) goldfish. 3) pancakes made by a Nicaraguan friend of ours. Who moved back to Nicaragua when he was 3, reducing the list to 2 items. Eventually, he was willing to acknowledge grilled cheese sandwiches as at least a non-malevolent food.


chris said...

I'm so jealous. Your kid sounds like he'll eat a lot of adventurous things. And don't get me started on the weather. We just got a bit of rain for the first time in 70-some days. And it wasn't enough. We're under drought conditions.

Meg said...

I added an addendum, because he REALLY (really, really, really) wasn't always such an adventurous eater (and I hadn't considered the gloaty-mama tone). One of my sisters had a very picky eater, and she very patiently respected her child, and rode out his pickiness. Having watched her go through it with her boy (who now tries all kinds of things) made it a little easier for me when we were All Goldfish All The Time. My boy may well go back to being super-picky, since many kids seem to go in cycles with their willingness to try different foods. It's fun now, but I have no idea if it will last.

You'd think that we could get a little sun and heat, and you all could get a little rain and cool, and we would all be much happier with a little moderation. My sister in Philadelphia talked to me about the drought when I was talking (read: complaining) to her- and it sucks.