There are things you swear to yourself you will never do. Mostly because your mother did them and you are NOT going to be just like her.
I said I would never try to hide one food in something else to get my children to eat it.
My mother took devilish glee in doing this as many in my family will concur. If my mother served hamburger surprise, you didn’t ask what type of meat it was. It was just a surprise. If it was thick soup, you can be sure a multitude of vegetables that you could bare to have touch your tongue would be lurking in it.
Her special delight was using every single zucchini that grew in her garden (and this wasn’t a small patch of tomatoes and herbs. It was at least a half acre with several hills of zucchini. My mom was probably the reason the story about locking your car door during zucchini season was started.) All of these zucchinis went into the usual recipes: stews, breads and cakes. And the not so usual ones: apple crisp and pizza.
The apple crisp was particularly cruel. It smelled wonderful and I looked forward to it the whole meal. Then I went to cut a piece. The apples appeared more green than any cooked apples I’d ever seen. (My mom peels the zucchini so that the dark green exterior does not give its presence away.) I took a bite, and despite the cinnamon and brown sugar topping, the flavor was off. Then I saw the seeds. NOT apple seeds. sigh.
Her favorite camouflage was pizza. She claims she only did this one, but my brother and I doubt it. Either that or the horror is so ingrained in us that we imagine she did it every week. At some point, we’d come to accept that zucchini’s sliminess contaminated all our food. For the pizza, Mom peeled and shredded it, then layered it under the cheese. It appeared slightly more green and less melted than the actual cheese. She served the pizza and waited while my brother and I dug in. Pizza was a rare and special treat. After we’d taken and swallowed our first bite, she inquired how we liked it. My brother said it was good. I nodded in agreement. She practically danced in her chair. “There’s zucchini in it!”
Now as I prepare food for my children with my limited cooking skills, I start to wonder how I could entice them to eat something different and the thought crosses my mind, “What if I ground up some tomatoes and put them on their quesadillas?”
What do you do that reminds you of your mother?