-My boys finding themselves in Paris!
I really hate black-eyed peas. I always have. I’m told that in my younger years, I would pray at night: “Dear Lord, please don’t make me have to eat black-eyed peas tomorrow.” That’s some kind of serious dislike when you implore the almighty to perform a legume intercession on your behalf. But alas, the fateful day always came when black-eyed peas would be on the menu and everyone in our house knew an epic dinnertime battle loomed large. Plates would be filled and we were expected to clean them to the last morsel. I would slowly and deliberately eat everything on my plate (as long as it wasn’t liver or sweet potatoes, two other items I hated, but not nearly so much as the dreaded black-eyed pea). The meal winnowed down to only the hateful legume, the battle would begin.
My mother would sternly say: “You will sit there until you eat those peas – every last one young lady!” I would look her in the eye and then look at my plate and sit. She sat…and glared at me. I sat… and glared at the peas, willing them to vanish into the ether. Finally, she would get up and start milling about, telling me not to leave the table until all the peas were consumed. Sometimes I sat for hours at that table. The black-eyed pea fracas usually ended one of three ways: 1. One of my siblings would sneak by the table and take huge bites for me. 2. I would gag (literally) down two or three bites and then scatter the rest around my plate. 3. My mother would yell at me to leave the table with admonitions of how I was too stubborn for my own good (as well as ungrateful for the food provided)! This scenario played out over and over in our house throughout much of my childhood. In retrospect, it was a silly mêlée.
I know my Mother was only trying to teach me good eating habits and I hold no malice against her for that. I know she only forced me to sit at that table for hours out of love, hoping to help me develop a taste for black-eyed peas. But it didn’t work. I still hate them to this day and almost have a physical revulsion when I think about eating them.
I think it’s good to encourage your kids to try new activities and varying foods. But if they sincerely dislike something, it’s your job as a parent to help them find activities (or food) they do like and give them coping skills to gently turn down things they truly don’t like. Your most important activity as a parent embodies helping your child find their true selves and being okay with who that person is. You should never force (black-eyed peas) or your pre-conceived notions of who they should become on your child.
Be there to facilitate opening doors of opportunity for your children and then let them choose which ones they will go through. You might not understand it, but trust your child to know what their heart and soul drives them to do (or eat)! Don’t force them to sit at the table, or at the piano bench, or on the basketball court, or on the drama team for hours or years of their precious childhood. Just keep presenting options and lovingly supporting their choices. I promise, when they go off into the world on their own, they will thank you profusely for helping them find their true selves. They will flounder less and succeed more if they have discovered who they really are and had support along that path of discovery.
Incidentally, my kids have never had black-eyed peas. I’ve never once cooked them – even on New Year’s Day (and our luck seems to be pretty awesome)! Trust your kids. Open doors of opportunity. Don’t make them eat black-eyed peas. Keep Shining. Peace Out!
The following recipe is a pea soup (I love split peas) that is hearty and filling. I make it often! It is completely plant based and gluten free. Eat as much as you care for, as it’s full of vitamins, minerals and good carbs.
Splendid Split Pea Soup
4 Cups split peas (I often use yellow split peas)
2 Sweet Onions, chopped
6 Ribs of celery, chopped fine
2 Cups chopped carrots
1 Bell pepper, chopped
4 Garlic cloves, minced
4 Cups red potatoes, diced
1 Jalapeno chopped fine, optional (wear plastic gloves when chopping)
2 Bay Leaves
2 Teaspoons mustard powder
1 – 2 Teaspoons smoked paprika
1 Can chopped tomatoes (use around 2 cups if you have fresh)
1 Cup cilantro
12 Cups Vegetable Broth (or more if you like your soup thinner)
Fresh Ground Pepper
Put peas in large soup pan along with the 12 cups of veggie broth. Bring to boil and reduce heat. Add in the onion, celery, carrots, bell pepper, garlic, potatoes, jalapeno, bay leaves, mustard and paprika. Bring to boil, reduce heat and let simmer for around 1 – 2 hours. Add in the tomatoes, cilantro. Add salt to taste (just a dash) and some fresh cracked pepper. Let simmer for 15 minutes more. Turn off heat and serve warm. I often put a dash of Sriracha over the top. Enjoy!