Please do not read further if you are looking for answers. I am as bewildered as you are and am merely posing the question.
I don’t know if I know her any more. Yes, she is my daughter and I have fed her since she was born into this world. For a brief few years I even believed that I knew what she liked and what she didn’t. Not any more; like, this morning. Breakfast was puris, fluffy deep fried wheat breads accompanied with a spicy lentil curry. She walks in, takes a look, says, “Wow, Puris!”, fills her plate and walks away to the dining table. She hates Puris.
But yesterday morning was a different story. I made poha (beaten rice) for breakfast, which she had openly claimed as one of the few food items she likes. And, she turned her nose up at that and reached out for a bowl of cereal and milk.
Her interest in food wanes and waxes with the day of the week and her mood for the day.
At home, there are still back up solutions. The universal South Indian comfort food curd and rice or bread-butter-jam.
School is totally another matter. I took her off school meal as I discovered two years ago that my darling is skipping breakfast and lunch as school food was, well, school food. I was overestimated how much I knew my child and my cooking skills.
Everyday I spend moments innovating on what could go into the lunch box. My experiments range from novel Veg-cheese savoury muffins to all time favourite Aloo Parathas to plain simple curd rice. They all have the same outcome. 50-75% of the lunch box comes back home, untouched. The reasons were as creative as my attempts to cook. “It was bland”. “It was cold”. “I did not have time for lunch”. “The teacher asked me to clean the book shelf during lunch break”.
And then I switched to making the kids taste the food before I packed the lunch. According to psychology, once someone verbally commits to do something, they would usually do it, right? Of course, that excludes Teen Psychology. What tasted delectable right out of the stove in the morning was apparently not even palatable 4 hours later, having sweated and cooled down inside a sealed lunch box.
There are a few staples that do work – pasta, potatoes, meat, cheese; cookies and cakes if they could make their way into a meal. But most other staples – rasam, sambar, idlis, cold dosas, dal – don’t!
So I googled on “Feeding Teenagers” and the first few sites that came up were tips on feeding them without breaking the bank. There is apparently another breed of teenagers who can eat the whole house and still want more. (I have encountered them as well and they are mostly boys).
But then mine is a girl, a girl who has never come to me saying she is hungry demanding food in all her years of life. Not once.
So I am back to square one and today being Sunday, I don’t have much time to waste as I need to start looking for recipes and ideas for the coming week.
P.S. V wants me to note that he, on contrast, has been a great teenager and eats everything I make. True.