Emily Writes went to a cafe and transcribed an interview between a journalist and a celebrity cook while her children took turns taking dumps in the fryer and coffee machine.
Journalist: The other day I was in the supermarket and I definitely heard a parent say “What do you mean you want a Jelly Tip? You know you love tiramisu.” This definitely happened. Parents these days? Am I right?
I’m here with a beloved old-school, yesteryear, 200-year-old, grandparent of 17,000 and chef. Needless to say, parents asking their children what they want to eat for dinner did not sit well with her! No not at all.
So, you’re a regionally renowned chef who is no-nonsense and a similar age to me and a grandparent and a parent to many hundreds of thousands of grown-up sons. What do you think about food and specifically parents these days?
Celebrity cook: Well, parents these days.
Well, in my day-
-the good old days.
Indeed, truly the best days of all of the days.
When men were men.
And parents were parents. Yes in those truly good days, no child ever refused to eat a meal. They ate what was put in front of them and they were grateful for it.
Very true. I remember – though I do not recall if I had any children as my wife did most of the child-rearing – exactly those days.
In those days, children would say “thank you mother” and they would eat everything. Whatever was put in front of them. They had no likes or dislikes of food because they were children not human beings. Because they were taught respect. And discipline. And we didn’t ask them questions like “What would you like to eat?” Can you imagine?
I cannot. Imagining would hurt me a great deal.
We just got on with it. Didn’t make a fuss. I meet so many women, not made-up at all for the purpose of selling my cook book Old-time Recipes from the Good Old Days, who make sometimes 150 million different meals every single night to please their children.
Yes every night. Whatever happened to just feeding your children and not making a fuss? When I was a child my mum used to prepare dinner, that was it. There was no ‘I don’t want the pepper, I don’t want this’, that was it. Can you imagine? A child not wanting pepper? I mean I could have said, “OK, no pepper”. But that would have taken me literally days to just not put pepper on my child’s meal. I’m not out of my mind. Whatever happened?
Indeed. Whatever happened. Parents these days.
Who’s the boss here and when did ‘shut up and eat’ go out of the parenting handbook? I think the problem is too many parents worry about their kids being hungry that they let their children dictate what they eat.
Almost like they assume they’re human beings when they’re not – they’re children.
Children should not be allowed snacks between meals to ensure they are hungry when it gets to meal time. I never get hungry between meals. It has never ever happened. Adults aren’t allowed snacks so why should children be allowed snacks? All adults only eat at specified meal times dictated by another person – and that’s how it should be. Who’s the boss here? Are we raising a child or running a business here? There must be an employer/employee agreement. When did these kids take over?
Well, it was like that, in the good old days.
Fussy eating is stupid parents. Parents don’t want to fight anymore, they don’t want to say ‘no’ anymore. Because the easiest thing for everybody is to say ‘you don’t want that? Don’t worry about it, I’m going to give you something else’. But I’m a good parent.
And who wouldn’t want to fight with their child? It’s great for bonding.
And nutritionally, it’s safer to give your child a deep-fried hand grenade than a chicken nugget.
What about how parents these days don’t give their children any other food but McDonalds?
I tried to ensure that my daughter, at a very young age, tasted as many different things as possible, whether it be blue cheese or caviar or whatever, because children develop their palate between two and three years old.
It’s a statistical fact that children love blue cheese and caviar or whatever.
Indeed. Caviar and blue cheese is affordable and accessible to all parents as well, which makes it an even better choice for good parents wanting to develop their child’s palate.
And what about how children these days don’t know what tables are since millennial parents hate eating with their children?
I always set the table and had napkins with napkin rings. I have so much time to do this. I find as a parent I have too much time so I like to fill my days putting napkins into napkin rings. My 15 month-old is always saying: “Thank you mama! I love the way you’ve set up this table Italian-style. Please pass the blue cheese and caviar!”
What about drinks? Any fizzy in your home?
I’d rather feed my child the fresh blood of Satan than give her orange juice, but we’re not strict about it. Sometimes I stir a glass of room-temperature tap water and my child enjoys that.
Just something easy like a 16 course degustation sushi. Because what kind of animal would put chips in their child’s lunchbox? Also because I don’t value women’s time or the cost of building up bulk ingredients I consider home baking to be free.
I don’t think we have covered how annoying children in public spaces are yet?
Well this definitely happened: in just two months of attending cafes as a celebrity chef I’ve seen kids running round and crashing into our table, causing coffee to slosh out of the cups; I’ve had chairs bumped into me; I’ve struggled to hear my friends speak over the noise of screaming children. One cheeky little ratbag helped herself to my gooey doughnut and licked off the jam and cream. I think there’s a whole new cafe culture out there where parents are letting their children run riot. My businesses went into liquidation so I had time to write about how this annoyed me.
Thank goodness! It would have been awful if we had suffered through a whole week without a post from a grandparent about children in cafes.
It was indeed very fortuitous.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I don’t have all the answers. I’m just a parent who can see the mistakes parents these days are making by being parents these days. And though I will never ever understand what it’s like to parent these days and I have no desire to consider that every child is different and every family is doing the best they can with the resources they have, I feel it’s my place to share this so that people buy my book Simply Cooking Simple Food Simply for Simple People.
independent journalism happen!Find Out More
I am just one parent reaching out to say that even though I don’t know what your life is like, the challenges or joys, and I don’t care, I do have a lot to say. And I will always have a lot to say when there is some money to be made. That’s not a judgement it’s just a statement of my facts in the face of low book sales for my 27th book Classic Ciwi Cooking Made Simply And Easily In Less Than 56 Hours. No judgement. No judgement at all.
Most of these quotes are from interviews with actual celebrity cooks I shit you not.
This content is entirely funded by Flick, New Zealand’s fairest power deal. In the past year, their customers saved $320 on average, which pays for a cheeky bottle of wine in the trolley almost every shop. Please support us by switching to them right now!
The Bulletin is The Spinoff’s acclaimed, free daily curated digest of all the most important stories from around New Zealand delivered directly to your inbox each morning.