I have it on good authority that ‘Flangiprop’ is a distant relative to ‘Conglomerate Soup’. Conglomerate Soup was the term my husband created to convince my veggie resisting children to get vitamins into them. My boys did suspect he was putting them on, but the darlings were young and trusting, back then and no match for the inventiveness of their desperate dad.
The term, Flangiprop is mentioned in a little known dictionary-cookbook called ‘Having fun with gobble gums and sprouting Brussels’, by Gordon Fishkettyle. Mr Fishkettyle, a father of two, spent years collecting anecdotes and recipes from family and friends to put this little gem together. It’s been out for two decades now, an open secret kept from the kiddies it is passed down by kindly veterans to clueless new parents.
The book is available at any good bookshop, but don’t expect to find it on the shelves. Staff keep it under the counter, out of sight of inquisitive toddlers so you will need to whisper the password, ‘at my wit’s end’ before they will bring it out of hiding. ‘Having Fun’ has tempting recipes for fussy eaters with inviting names like Batman brocco-burgers or Dorothy the Dinosaur-pea soup that parents can use to fool their children with. Before the children’s rights brigade come out in force and cry mental cruelty let me point out that all’s fair in love and war and good parenting. It’s a hard enough gig as it is, and we parents do what we have to, to ease the heavy load.
But there’s a mystery to be solved here. How has it come to this pass? Having dined exclusively on mother’s (or cow’s milk) for months, the introduction of pumpkin and mushy peas is a baby’s idea of ambrosia; the darlings can’t get enough of it. They suck their veggies down the gullet like there’s no tomorrow. So, what happens after that? How come spinach is top of the pops one day and the next our children make noises that translate as ‘eeuw,gag, spit, I’m not touching that with a barge pole’?
I’ve had a few years to examine it and I’ve come to some conclusions, all of them my own so take them or leave them. As children are introduced to more solids the exhausted cook is tempted to stop cooking separate meals. If the parents have Pizza Mondays and Fish and Chips Fridays then good luck getting the child back to broccoli. If the family doesn’t recognise a vegetable unless it’s incorporated into Conglomerate Soup or Flangiprops what hope has the youngster got? What hope, in fact has that Pizza eating parent got who says, ‘eat that carrot, it’s good for you!’
Aren’t those first birthday parties adorable? Balloons and streamers and hats and lots of sound and colour. Lots of excitement, too. At that stage the food is aimed at the parents rather than the children. The exception being the frosted birthday cake with one candle in the middle and one to grow on, on the side. That’s traditionally where the child is encouraged to shove a hand into the frosting and feast on it. After that it’s other birthday parties and other cakes, and jelly cups and hundreds and thousands sandwiches and sausage rolls and party pies and chocolate crackles. It’s all downhill from there, as children are introduced into the wider world of crèche, day care, kindergarten and school.
Sometimes I feel that there should be a special place in hell reserved for people who sell take away food, but it has its place in our take-away, throw-away society so we have to turn the disadvantage into the occasional treat and minimise the harm.
You can pack nutritious lunches for school, but you’re not there to see who they swap their lunches with or what happens to the things they can’t rid themselves of. There are people who pre-prepare lunches a week at a time and put them in the freezer. I would get up half an hour earlier so my children could have a fresh lunch each day. One of them, a vegetarian now, would toss his lunch on the way to school. The laugh is on him now, he has to eat his broccoli. (Actually, he likes it, eeuw.)
What do you do from there? I don’t know. This isn’t a ‘How To’ story. Buy the book and make Brocco-burgers or Flangiprops. Better still, introduce vegetables to your children that haven’t been disguised. If you do it early enough you might have a chance. And stay away from Maccas and their ‘Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions – all on a sesame seed bun.’