Timeout New York Kids

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Happy meals may not yield happy results

Children's menus in restaurants usually seem deceptively convenient; why spend time convincing our kids to try a strange-sounding sauce or creatively orchestrated medley of veggies when we could just as easily hand them a list that asks them to choose between chicken fingers, grilled cheese or pint-sized burgers? In today's New York Times, David Camp argues that these unchallenging options may be reinforcing picky habits and, ultimately, a less trained palate. Most of us can remember being told to clean our plates at dinner, even if pushing spinach or cabbage down our throats felt like an impossible task. Yet, just as our parents predicted, we are usually thankful for being exposed to tart-tasting vegetables as children and thus becoming used to a variety of flavors. Even the fanciest restaurants today sport a variation of a children's menu, and, in a city where dining out is a frequent family routine, kids are likely to begin asking for chicken fingers and chicken fingers only. The danger is not only an unhealthier generation, but one that lacks even the most basic sense of culinary sophistication.

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