The Kitchen Reader: Hungry Monkey

Hungry-monkey This month's Kitchen Reader book, which I got to pick, was Hungry Monkey: A Food-Loving Father's Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater.  

If I had to seriously choose attributes I would wish for our kiddo, "adventurous eater" wouldn't make the top ten.  (Those would be things like smart, kind, brave, funny....)  

But it would definitely make the top twenty!

We're food people--it's important to us.  And just like sports-loving people want to have sports loving kids and book-loving people want to have little readers, it would tickle me to death if our kid was adventurous about food.

To that end, this book is more memoir than guidebook.  And while Amster-Burton does have some success in getting his daughter, Iris, to experiment with trying new foods, she has some of the same issues that I suspect all kids have.  She goes through picky phases.  She loves a food one day, and won't even try it the next, etc.  This is not a book to tell you how to get your kid to eat spinach every night.

What this book is--or at least seems to be--is very sane.

Feed your kid what you eat.  Don't make a big issue out of it if they don't like something, or even when they do.  Get them involved in choosing and making food--one idea that I thought was particularly good is that little Iris picks what the family has for dinner at least one night a week.  Make things that are customizable--e.g. rice with a variety of toppings so that everyone can pick their own.

It also explores the reasons behind some of the common advice behind feeding kids--no spicy foods, only organic food--and completely blasts the ones that don't make sense.  (Do you eat only bland, organic food?)  Having read a few other books in the "cooking for baby" genre, I really appreciated the completely non-sanctimonious tone.

This book is also hilarious!  I snarfled out loud at least every other page or so.  I'm sure life with Iris isn't that funny 24/7, but for literary purposes the one-liners Amster-Burton picks out had me rolling with laughter.

While this book is certainly targeted at parents of young ones, it's truly funny enough that I think even people who remember their own childhood eating weirdnesses will get a kick out of it.