Foodie reads: My hungry journey through children’s books

I love to eat. Whether it’s whipping up in my tiny kitchen or taking advantage of several dining spots in the city, food is a passion for me. This foodie fascination did not develop overnight. This has been a lifelong journey, thanks to books.

As a child, I was always willing to try something once – and with a Polish grandma who did not let you leave the table until you finished your dinner – my mind opened up to different cuisines and flavors. Despite being a member of the “sugary cereal generation,” books helped me find a way to be a bit more daring with my palette.  The following children’s books opened my mind to the possibilities of good eats.

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

Don’t Judge It Until You Try It: I vividly remember my mom reading this to me when I refused to eat broccoli – a.k.a “icky trees.” I remember her teaching me the lesson of “don’t judge it until you try it” with this iconic book.  After a bit of trial-and-error (and some great histrionics at the dinner table performed by yours truly), I realized I love eating raw broccoli. To this day, “icky trees” are now one of my favorite afternoon snacks.

The Paddington Bear series by Michael Bond

Taste the World: Paddington was not only adventurous, but also had a voracious appetite. His tales opened my eyes to a variety of foods including marmalade. Thanks to Paddington, I began to experiment with my peanut butter sandwich school lunches by adding different types of jams and fruits (and even potato chips once…or twice), offering me the chance to try sweet-and-salty, savory-and-sweet and other taste profiles. Paddington also taught me to always keep a snack handy, although I will avoid keeping it under my hat for safe keeping.

Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola

See the Magic in Cooking: This book helped me catch the “cooking bug.” Thanks to her magic pot, Strega Nona made the most delicious pasta. In first grade, we performed a play in class about this book. I was the lucky classmate who played the role of …. the pot. I vividly remember my role consisted of throwing packing peanuts in the air behind a cardboard pot cut-out, mimicking the pot begin to overflow with delicious pasta. After this award-winning performance, I raced home and asked my Grandma how to make pasta and other delicious meals.

Goosebumps: Monster Blood and other titles by R.L. Stine

Play with your food! I know this sounds a bit far-fetched, but as a young boy it was all about “the gross factor.” R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps titles, such as “Go Eat Worms,” turned gross eats into something spooky, laughable – and a fun challenge in the kitchen. The book encouraged me to bake with my mom and make fun treats like “monster blood milkshakes” and “go eat worms dirt brownies.” Thanks to these books, I began to understand the chemistry behind baking.

Be sure to check out these other great top “foodie reads” from Scholastic:

Photo Credit: Liz West via Flickr