Half term rolls on. Certain plans have gang agley. Other plans have happened. I did plan to go and visit my lovely sister in law yesterday in Bristol, and that happened, which was awesome. Even more awesome was finding out she lives two minutes from River Cottage Canteen, and going there for dinner with my family.
Hoorah! Especially because they all ate like normal people, and this is a sign people. It is a sign that proper, civilized life does beckon after the long, dark tunnel of raising children who will only eat white food, or pasta, or will only eat food if the separate food stuffs are not actually touching each other on the plate, or who won’t eat bacon if there’s a Y in the month or something.
It is a sign that sitting at a table trying to hold onto your temper while you’ve paid fourteen pounds for a main course which someone is looking at like it’s made of evil dog turds will actually pass. No more whispering through gritted teeth: ‘JUST…EAT…IT.’ No more explaining why it is not possible to survive solely on chips, or why it is not desirable to eat everything you don’t like by the method of pouring fourteen metric tonnes of tomato sauce on it to disguise the taste.
It is absolute and utter bliss. I swear to you. It feels like an enormous weight has quite literally been lifted from my shoulders.
In all fairness the signs have been there for a while, but when I looked at the menu yesterday I did feel a slight sinking sensation in my despair gland as I thought of all the negotiations I would have to go through to get them to try foods that sounded slightly ‘dangerous’.
As it happened, this moment never came.
Trumpets sounded as Tallulah and Oscar happily ordered pork shin ragu with orechiette and spring greens, Tilly expertly ordered merguez meatballs with hummus and flatbreads and Jason plumped for Moroccan spiced lamb chops with cucumber raita (he can be tricky in posh food situations). I wept with pleasure as I ate my butter and herb garlic drenched plaice with braised lettuce and new potatoes and shared out the mozzarella and asparagus I’d ordered just because it was there. Not once did anyone pull a face, not try things, try and bury something under a pile of mashed potato.
To celebrate, we ate splendid puddings (mostly chocolate mousse cake with peanut butter caramel sauce, and rhubarb pavlova). I celebrated so much I ate nearly two entire puddings (thank you Jason).
If you are still at the picky eating stage of parenting and are thinking of giving up, I say to you, persevere. Hang on in there. I have proved that is entirely possible to go to a restaurant which does not have wipe clean, formica tables and menus for things you can eat out of boxes, and enjoy the experience without wanting to kill yourself, and everyone else in a half mile radius.
In my case it has taken about sixteen years of parenting to get there, but hey, you know, the youngest one is only eight, so with perseverance you might find it only takes nearly a decade to get here, instead of nearly two.
One of the nicest things about the evening was the fact that because everyone ate their food, we did not have to discuss the food before us in microscopic detail, except to say that we were enjoying it. There was no discussion of past food we might have eaten, food we might eat one day, food we thought we might like but it turns out we didn’t. We just talked about normal things. Like real people do. It was tremendous.
Tallulah surpassed herself by forgetting the word for jet ski and inventing ‘sea moped’ and Oscar nearly trumped that by thinking that ‘nef-girl’ was the opposite of nephew.
Top marks for the entire dining experience.
Which makes it all the more ironic that today Oscar is currently the same shade as parchment and violently unwell with some sort of stomach bug, which none of the rest of us have got, so which is entirely not related to what we ate, but which has made our trip out to Emma Bridgewater and the prospect of tea and cakes with friends, a non-event today.
Still, I can dine on the memories of yesterday.