By Tanya Ward Goodman
We’ve been on a liquid diet. It’s not a fad. We’re not trying to lose weight. It’s just that we got this new blender and my son has been making smoothies the way I imagine Nancy Silverton once made bread — obsessively, consistently, and with feverish experimentation.
“We need more frozen pineapple,” he says every other day.
More pineapple, more mango, more berries. We’ve gone through so many bananas the clerks at our neighborhood market might suspect we are harboring an orangutan.
Every morning we have a smoothie for breakfast and sometimes, after dinner, a smoothie for dessert. He’s so excited; it’s hard to say no. Making a smoothie is something my son can do from start to finish on his own. He gets to choose the ingredients, operate (semi) heavy machinery and serve us something he created. I get it. It’s powerful to feed people.
I try hard to keep my controlling self out of the kitchen. Sometimes this is difficult. I find it nearly impossible not to wonder at the appropriateness of ingesting ice cream before 8 am. (Though strangely, I’m all for a donut – a contradiction I cannot explain.)
“Where’s the cocoa powder?” my boy wonders. “If I can’t use ice cream, there should at least be cocoa.” I shake my head and will my stomach not to clench as he adds milk and soy milk and coconut water and orange juice.
“Do you think maybe just one or two?” I ask. “That sure is a lot of flavors,” I muse.
My husband shoos me away. He will drink anything. He is not phased by the sound of a week’s worth of groceries being ground into one thick and chilly breakfast. He is taking the high and indulgent road on this one. My husband will choose other battles.
I look for more opportunities to give my boy this kind of autonomy. I ask him to pick out his clothes, run his own shower, bring the garbage cans up from the curb. I show him how to turn on the stove and scramble eggs in a pan. He makes pancakes and grilled cheese sandwiches and a Caprese salad with artistic drizzles of balsamic vinegar.
In another life, my son might be herding cows or chopping wood. He is hardwired for this sort of activity, but here in the city, we’ve got only the dog and central heating, so we turn to the kitchen where there are sharp knives and big choices to be made. The blender is great, but soon I’ll teach him to sauté and braise and roast. It’s fall and my boy is nearly ten. I raise a glass of smoothie to his budding independence.