Before she was one of Australia’s top restaurant critics, Larissa Dubecki was one of its worst waitresses. In this extract from hew new memoir Prick with a Fork she writes about the new breed of youngster – the child foodie.
There are kids these days who are restaurant connoisseurs. Truly. Ten-year-olds who visit high-end restaurants, order the spanner crab velouté followed by the pork belly with onion marmalade, then blog about it. Their classmates go to Little League on Saturdays. They go to farmers’ markets. Their classmates love improbable cartoons about talking penguins. They love improbable TV chef Rick Stein. Their classmates love fries. They love friands.
This is a new breed of youngster—when the marketers get their hands on them they’ll be called something like iChild, or Kid 2.0— that simply didn’t exist a decade ago. Not even a wicked glint in that nice Jamie Oliver’s eye. I guess the reason they engender confusion, wariness, even horror, in other people is because they don’t conform to the norms of childhood. They’re more like grown-ups trapped in pre-pubescent bodies. All their parents have to do in the face of insolence is turn off Junior MasterChef and keep them from viewing other like-minded children weeping over a soufflé that just didn’t try hard enough. It’s way too easy.
When you’ve had kids of your own, you tend to stop judging. The minute you pop that baby out you’re bathed in the great truth that parenting is a long, hard slog, that we’re all in this together and that everyone’s choices have to be respected. On the other hand, self- evidently these children are precocious, over-entitled brats whose parents really ought to send them for an emergency session in the sandpit. No one under the age of consent should be conversant in the difference between the summer and winter truffle. (‘As I said to Mama the other day, the summer truffle is just expensive dirt,’ such a child might say in the seconds before I strangle her to death with a piping bag.) These children, not to mention the families that condone such grossly antisocial behaviours, ought to take a good, hard look at their screwed-up priorities.