Tara's Food Notebook

Picky Eaters and 'Pale Food'

Picky eaters gravitate towards 'pale foods' like pasta or rice.

In this recent article in The New York Times, the author describes the eating habits of her 4-year-old daughter: "anything carb-heavy, creamy and unchallenging, preferably anchored by pasta, bread or rice."

This is a universal thing, and it's especially perplexing to parents who are foodies. My own daughter, who is 3, has a really limited list of things that she'll eat. And it changes (usually right after I buy an economy pack of whatever I think she will like).

Right now, foods that she'll nibble at include: raw flour tortillas, tuna mixed with mayo, pasta with butter (sometimes with red sauce, not usually). Just last week, she deemed cut-up hot dogs with ketchup "too spicy." REALLY, now?! And turkey cold cuts dipped in ranch, not so much anymore.

The author, like me, is confident her kid will outgrow this, but "while most children outgrow their white-food phase, others do not. They carry it with them into adulthood, forever reaching for the baked potato." I think we all know someone like this. For those in K-12 or college dining, it may be an everyday customer--the reason you can't take chicken fingers off the menu.

In a way, I can't believe how much they're missing out on--the flavors, the fun! But really, to each their own. Some 'pale food' recipes are actually really good, like this mac 'n cheese recipe that sneaks some ham into the mix.


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Tara Fitzpatrick

Tara Fitzpatrick is senior editor of Food Management and has been a full time staff editor since 2008. She covers food, culinary and menu trends. Favorite food? “Lox on a bagel....
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