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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My Toddler Can Out-Cook Your Toddler

Posted By on Tue, Jan 13, 2009 at 8:07 AM

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It seems The New York Times can't get enough of kitcheny, kitschy kids. First they write about a 12-year-old aspiring restaurant critic, and we wrote about that here.

Now it turns out that the back-of-the-book food-page-with-recipes in The New York Times Magazine is being re-jiggered for the new year: "changes designed to more heartily and tastefully reflect the way we eat now." The first of the new columns is called Cooking With Dexter, in which Pete Wells, the editor of The Times's Dining section, writes about cooking with his son, described as "a 4-year-old foodie."

The Times its ownself, knowing how closely this skates towards the abyss of self-parody, follows this announcement with a parenthetical "(We are not making this up.)".

The actual piece is not as twee or competitive as we'd feared. (In fact, finding out that little Dexter, which we assume is not his real name, is allergic "to a group of foods that included egg whites," precluding such gastronomic treats as scrambled eggs and French toast, as well as home-made ice cream thickened with eggs, made us genuinely sad. We hope he grows out of it.)

Although we thought its title, "Orange Genius," might have some foodie parents enraged, all we could find clicking around the web was a blog post from parents of another toddler who real name appears to be Dexter and who loves cooking pizza with his dad and watching Ratatouille. And he's only three! And that's how I learn about Big Kitchen With Food, a five-year-old's cooking show on Portland cable access TV. To which I instantly became addicted (especially when chef Julian picks up an ingredient and asks his off-camera mom what it's called. Hint: TVP is textured vegetable protein. And basil is basil).

But, back at "Orange Genius," it's either sloppy writing, editing, or reading that makes it unclear whether the two ounces of "good, strong coffee" that Dexter brews each morning, grinding beans, pouring it through a filter, and adding sugar and cream, is for his own use or his father's ("Meanwhile, I brew a quart or so for my own use," Wells writes, "He is a purist, and I am not, so I have my beans ground at the store.").

I don't have an ice-cream maker, so I can't try out Pete and Dexter's recipe for tangerine sherbet with cream (which "reminded me of long-ago Creamsicles and Orange Juliuses at the mall," not quite thrilling enough memories to induce one to run out and buy one). But I do await their further adventures with interest.

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Meredith Brody

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