A few nights ago I had the pleasure of dining at EVOO with my 7-year-old son Shane. Shane is an adventurous eater, willing to try to appreciate just about anything. When we dine out he is likely to order the most esoteric items on the menu; crispy pig’s ears, snails, liver mousse etc. Shit, he’s been slurping raw oysters since he was 2. On occasion he has been known to plop down on the couch, open a can of salt cured anchovies, pile them on crackers, with no other condiments and finish off the can. I wish I could get some of my staff enjoy eating as much as he does.
People often say his broad palate is because he is my son and that we expose him to these foods, which is partially true. Colleen, my wife, wouldn’t consider trying many of the foods that Shane eats. Our 4-year-old daughter Caitlin, who has been exposed to the same foods, would happily enjoy a diet of bagels with cream cheese for breakfast and lunch, followed by macaroni and cheese for dinner every day. She claims to like very few foods. However, with some prodding she will try to enjoy most offerings. But she lacks the gusto that Shane eats with.
Shane is a Cub Scout and we were doing a sleepover at the Boston Science Museum. He asked if I knew any good restaurants near the science museum that we could go to before the sleepover. Of course, I suggested EVOO. He was thrilled to go, it had been quite some time since we last dined there. I had recently been telling him that I was thinking of him while I developed our new arctic char dish. The dish is contains some of his favorite foods, arctic char, smoked arctic char (in a croquette with potatoes), Spanish white anchovies and wilted spinach (yes, he even likes spinach). He decided that he was going to have that dish before we left the car. I chose to have a chop from Paula the Mangalitsa pig. He also wanted to try the blood sausage. I told him that I didn’t think we had enough time and that I will bring one home for him to try.
I love watching him eat. He started in on his plate by putting the Spanish white anchovies on the side of the plate stating “they’re my favorite, I want to save them for last”. Then he peeled the skin off the char to eat that first. He exclaimed “Wow, this is really good, it’s crispy and it’s juicy”. He shut me down when I asked him to try it. At home when I cook fish, the kids argue over the skin, I am lucky to get any of it. So I had expected him to shut me down. I was very happy to see him enjoying it as much as he did.
We were sitting at one of the high tables that are directly in front of the cooking line. Carlos, our long time cold line master was working the station that night, there was a new dish that he had not plated before. So, since I was right there he asked me to show him how to plate it. No problem, it was Pig’s head terrine (AKA head cheese) with pickled beef tongue salad. Not surprisingly Shane wanted to try it. He tried the pickled tongue first, liked it. Saying “it’s better than the last time I had it”, which was only a few weeks prior, we got some as part of a gift from the EVOO cooks. Then he tried the head cheese. After a few “mmm that’s really good” we went back to our table to finish up so we could hurry off to be with a couple hundred other 7 and 8 year olds sleeping at the science museum.
Making our way to the car Shane proclaimed “that cheese stuff is really good”…