Stand Picky, Stand Proud: Lucianovic Demystifies Picky Eating In New Book

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GG: Do you ever have days where you revert to your childhood ways of eating—when you simply can't face even the foods you've learned to love (or at least tolerate)?

SL: Yep. When I was pregnant. Apparently, my soon-to-born Henry knew better than I did at that point and didn't want me eating the usual amounts of fish and fresh vegetables I had grown to love. My usual diet ended up being fairly unappetizing to me and the foods of my childhood (as well as a healthy amount of junk food) is what he nudged me to eat. On the the other hand, I'm possibly off corn—my previous comfort vegetable—forever. I don't know if it's just me, but it's gotten way too sweet for my preference, and I simply don't enjoy it the way I used to as a kid. This makes me sad.

However, on a daily basis, I'd say that the foods I used to hate as a kid now make up the majority of my diet, and that's not necessarily because I've become so enlightened or whatever. It's more that those are the foods I buy, they're the foods I have in the house, and eating them has become routine. To not eat them would actually be more of a hassle. That said, and as I noted in the book, anyone can have a day when they can't face one more kale salad and want to get in some really awful-good Chinese food.

GG: You include recipes in the book that have worked to change your eating choices. Have you tested those on other picky eaters, too?

I have! I converted my colorist with my greens recipe, I converted one friend with the Brussels sprouts and another with the roasted broccoli and, though I don't know whether I'd deem him pickier than any other toddler, my Henry adores the okra recipe above every other vegetable I make. I've also gotten in reports from people who read the book and cooked for themselves or their families that they have broccoli and cauliflower converts as well. I love it!

(On their last visit, I also won both my parents over with the okra recipe, which rightfully belongs to Catherine Shattuck.)

GG: Speaking of recipes, if you indeed ever get the chance to cook for Anderson Cooper, what (besides, perhaps, spinach) will you put on the menu?

SL: I won't do spinach. It's not my favorite thing to make, since I don't feel I've yet perfected the recipe to my preference. I think I'd make him pasta with beet greens sauteed in garlic with drifts of shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano, and maybe a roasted Brussels sprouts salad with nuts and currants. However, I wouldn't want to overwhelm him with too many disliked foods at once—ARE YOU LISTENING ANDERSON?—because I don't think that's the best way to approach it, either. It's also a good tactic to make sure to serve liked foods as well. This gives the picky eater something to take refuge in and keeps them from feeling like they'll starve if they don't eat the Big Bad vegetable at the table. That additional pressure is not needed or helpful. Slow and steady converts the picky. (Plus, wine.)

GG: Did food blogging help prepare you to write this book? How so?

SL: It did in that I always wanted to tell food stories at Grub Report. (I'm not so much about the recipes over there.) And in that way, blogging got me to think and write like a memoirist. I started Grub Report in 2003 to chronicle my adventures in culinary school, and always intended it for it to be a place for me to practice telling food stories. It was my first (and sometimes only) place for my food writing.

However, my years at Television Without Pity taught me how to write funny, and writing the actual book taught me how to research and present that research in what I hope is an accessible and interesting form. I think I Tweeted during the book writing process that the best way to learn how to write is to write a book. It's true, and I think I'm a much better writer on this side of the book than I was going in.

GG: What has surprised you the most about the reaction to the book so far?

SL: That people are actually reading it, enjoying it, learning, and laughing. Seriously. It's what I wanted, and I don't think I'm ever going to be surprised about it. You write a book and you hope—you really, really hope hard—that all this work and passion and pain won't just sink like a stone in a lake, but you know it's could happen. And I'm quite a pessimist, so I definitely saw that happening with Suffering Succotash. I feel extremely lucky to hear of people reading the book and having the reactions I dearly wanted them to have.

Genie blogs about gardening and food at The Inadvertent Gardener, and tells very short tales at 100 Proof Stories. She is also the Food Section Editor for BlogHer.

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