American as apple pie

My mother has come to visit, and over the school holidays, she set a little research project for Master Seven. He had to choose a country to learn about, and then help her to cook a meal from that country. It was a great way to keep my fidgety, easily bored little guy busy for a few days. He had a clipboard with research questions to ask family members what they knew about his chosen country, then he thought of things he might like to know about it, and learned how to look things up on the internet with an adult helping him.

Although I hoped he would choose someplace exotic, with delicious food — hello, France or Morocco — the country my son chose to learn about was The United States of America. And the meal he chose to cook? Hot dogs, served with carrots, apples, and potato chips, with Oreo ice cream cones for dessert. Oh, and apple juice to drink. Every kid’s dream, right?

We all sat down to dinner at the table my son set himself. Each plate had a whole, uncut apple on it. There were carrot sticks in a bowl, with dip for us to help ourselves. We had two kinds of hot dogs — smoked chicken and “European style” (not an American ballpark frank in sight). It wasn’t the most balanced of meals, nor the most filling, but he was so proud of himself. We all sat there, munching our hot dogs and asking my son what he learned about America (“It has a president, not a prime minister!” “That’s where cowboys come from!”).

Later, I thanked Master Seven for his efforts, which he clearly enjoyed (and which kept him out of my hair for some of the school hols). But there was something niggling me, I told him. “I’m just surprised we didn’t have apple pie for dessert. After all, what’s more American than apple pie?”

“But that would have taken ages to make!” he replied. “I already had enough to do, learning about America. I didn’t want to miss out on more Lego-playing time. So I decided we could just have apples and apple juice and you could imagine you were eating apple pie.”

Hmph. Imaginary apple pie, indeed! He’d better choose France next time, so I can have a real pain au chocolat. Or just a chocolate bar. I can live with that.

Katherine Granich

Editor, Tots to Teens

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