I’ve been mentoring a now-12 year old for a few years, and in that time, she’s become more my little sister than anything else.
We met through the adoption camps that I volunteer for, and her parents asked if I’d be willing to hang out with her and be a role model for her. (It’s interesting how sometimes the very notion that you are a role model for a child propels you forward, especially when you feel incredibly small.) So we began our journey to pseudo-sisterhood one winter day in 2015.
Flash forward to multiple family dinners. They are a very healthy family, and to me it seemed that every time I would go over, they’d be making salmon. Grilled salmon, baked salmon, salmon a million ways. My 12 year old would always balk at the salmon, and so, in the spirit of role modeling, I would choke down salmon the way she liked it: cracker, slathered in cream cheese, salmon. Actually, that’s a decent way to baby step into salmon consumption. Cream cheese is a beautiful thing.
Okay, I’d think to myself, you can do this. Salmon is healthy; it’s full of Omega-3s and whatever else you need. Eat it. Demonstrate curiosity and willingness to try new things.
So I kept eating salmon.
At a recent family dinner, I remarked that they’re always making salmon, and they told me that they thought salmon was my favorite. Achievement clearly unlocked, as I have been faking a love of salmon so well and for so long that they believed it. That’s why they made salmon every time.
We laughed, as I explained that I was trying to demonstrate good eating habits, and since then, our menu has differed significantly. The other night, we ate manicotti, as my 12 year old scraped off all of the sauce, leaving just cheese and noodles. (How one can appreciate anything without sauce, I cannot fathom; I clearly still have work to do here.)
And, proudly, a few weeks ago, I bought fresh salmon at Costco, slathered it in pesto, topped it with breadcrumbs and shredded cheese, baked it for 17 min and then broiled it carefully for 3 min to crisp up the crumbs, and, to my great surprise, I enjoyed the hell out of some salmon for the first time in my adventures in cooked fish.
I’ll have to send them the recipe. Or perhaps, I’ll just have to make it for them the next time we have family dinner.