MAC ’N CHEESE: LOVE YOUR PLANET SHAPES
An updated Wisconsin Valley classic that hits the middle of your tongue like butter. Refined and velvety, a tyke’s take on spaghetti carbonara, albeit without that bacon nose or abundance of smoke. Marvelously harmonious with mushy overcooked elegance, drawing you subliminally into its orbit with a delectable smoothness and a silky finish. It’s like liquid cashmere in your mouth. The King of Kid Dinners, it has a creamy texture suitable for casual dining on backyard swing sets. Clueless children consume boxed dinners daily until puberty, but I turned up my culinary nose years ahead of this developmental milestone.
Best paired with: Disney’s Frozen
Alternate Pairing: Pizza
FROZEN CHICKEN FINGERS
A balanced combination of fat, blood vessels, nerve, connective tissue, and ground bone. Quick and convenient, this quintessential finger food is a versatile staple that can be served on SpongeBob placemats or in car seats. A dish that evokes legend and fascination with its brilliant nuances of crunch and an unctuous finish. Wow! At $5 a portion a steal, the kind of dinner for a mom who doesn’t want to cook after SoulCycle.
Pairing: Artisanal ketchup and Tide-to-Go stick
Comparable Label: Fat Nuggets
Formerly known as Freedom Fries
Spuds boasting a beautiful onion-skin tinge, grown in the shade of century-old plane trees on a village square. Americans have developed their own potato country, with regions specifically dedicated to shoestrings, waffle fries, crinkle cuts, poutine, and chips. Let your preschooler go boozily wild by dipping them in milkshakes for an expressive change of pace.
Pairing: Prototypical accompaniment to rustic summer fare like charred, overcooked hamburgers (mom’s phobic about E.coli)
Formerly known as Grilled Cheese
Delivers a rich earthy flavor hinting toward sweetness. Brilliant Big Bird-yellow glow, oozing out of the airiest of white breads. Redolent of a profusion of the world’s finest kid-friendly cheeses from Velveeta to Kraft Singles, aged fourteen days without the interference of actual milk ingredients.
Pairing: Milkshakes—although never as an âpertif; best served as a digestif (FYI: I learned my French vocab in the womb when I first started accompanying my parents to degustations at vineyards)
CHUNKY OR SMOOTH
There’s always room for PB&J
A big, full-bodied friendly sandwich that is excellent before or after dinner. Tacky especially on the finish, mingling with jammy cooked sweetness overwhelming the palate. Plums fill the nose and the sweet cherry follows where it lingers in the mouth. Serve slightly chilled. Ages well. Convinces any Tiger Mom it’s brain food.
Best Paired With: After-dinner mints (choking hazard)
Comparable: Grilled cheese, cream cheese on anything
An American classic first cultivated in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn
Intense red sauce with whitish hues of mozzarella trucked in monthly from Walmart. A big toasty dish bursting with earthy massive flavors, especially on the finish. This popular yet timeless classic can be served at every birthday party, confirmation, bar mitzvah, and hamster funeral. Reminiscent of the greatest Neapolitan vintages, pleasing children and parents alike. Worth the hype.
Oak: None, except when cooked in wood-fired ovens
Body: Roman skinny-thin to Famous Original Ray’s thick slabs of carbs, guaranteed to send you into a drunken afternoon slumber
Aging: Can be easily reheated for breakfast on days when nanny is off visiting her real family
Pairing: Juice boxes, individually packaged
CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP
AKA Jewish Penicillin
Rich and full-bodied only begin to describe this wonderful alternative to pasta. This refined combination will transport taste buds into a state of euphoria matched only when capturing a rare Mewtwo on Pokémon Go. A perfect balance of protein, carbs, and possibly a few carrots. The aromas of immigrant grandmothers laboring all day in the kitchen mingle with a subtle herbaceous finish.
Pairing: Manischewitz (for parents only, except teething babies)
Comparable Soups: None if you’re Jewish; consommé if you’re a WASP
ORGANIC GRASS-FED MILK
Still amazingly youthful, this lesser-known bone-building option dominates Whole Foods milk lists. A soft and elegant medium-bodied drink that exudes maternal warmth with an aftertaste of vanilla. Guiltless production, free from hormones other than my mother’s chronic postpartum depression. As it matures it takes on a surprising tartness one week past expiration date, with aromas of stinky cheese and rotten eggs. Best consumed young.
Comparable: Skim (yuck), soy (yuckier), rice (WTF?), or coconut Milk (can’t even)
Fun Fact: Château Stonyfield Farms has absorbed the great Borden
FUJI APPLE JUICE
Hipster replacement for quotidian Mott’s
An irresistible fruit-forward everyday white, traditionally styled from sun-drenched orchards. Easygoing personality with aromatic and floral notes accompanied by ripe raisiny complexity. Mellows with time. Rarely vinegary. This one has depth, finesse, and legs. Turn your toddler terror into terroir.
Available Formats: Concentrate (will keep another 20 years) and Vintner’s Reserve (Limited Edition).
SINFULLY RICH VALRHONA CUPCAKES
Alert to parents: 1/3 of your daily allowable points on Weight Watchers
Chewy, chocolaty “rewards” for force-feeding broccoli to your Vitamin C-deficient child. Bake these from scratch to prove you’re as comfortable in aprons as business suits. Stir in some weed in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington. More delicious than sex, I hear. Binge eat in private to recover from interminable bedtime rituals.
Pairing for the child: Grass-fed Château Stonyfield Farms April 2016
Pairing for the parent: Moscato d’Asti, just a hint of fine effervescence tickles the palate and balances the sweetness
Available by the case with 10% discount—best imbibed in sippy cups while finishing toddler leftovers at 10 p.m.
Rumpus original art by Claire Stringer.
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