How to Get Your Kid to Eat Tomatoes (aka “Vampire Traveling Tomatoes” that Look Like Brains)
My daughter didn’t like tomatoes and it was killing me in the kitchen. When I read this Slate article* and learned that food dislikes were psychological,** and therefore fixable, I decided to eliminate the family food aversions one by one. I managed to turn my intense hatred of anything that had even touched mint, cucumbers, or cinnamon into absolute cravings. My daughter learned to like everything… except tomatoes! (We’re still holding out on Century Eggs… we feel no need to like them).
This is a child who refused to eat spaghetti until I let her watch the noodles wriggle down into the hot pot and told her it was worms. When I saw the tomato ‘Reisetomate aus Siebenbürgen’ on the Amishland Heirloom Seeds site, I knew my battles were over.
I asked some German speaking friends to do translations on the name variations I’ve seen and was told “Riesentomate” means “giant tomato” and the other spelling (which I’d first assumed was a typo) “Reisetomate” means “travel tomato.” I’m going to go with “travel tomato” on this one since the fruits look like a fused ball of cherry tomatoes that you pull apart. Very convenient for lunch boxes and hiking picnics!
My friend said, “‘aus Siebenbürgen’ means ‘from Transylvania,’ the region in Romania. So they are giant (traveling) vampire tomatoes!”
How could you fail to impress a reluctant child when you are growing vampire traveling tomatoes?
Our family’s technique for learning to like difficult foods is to try it every single time we encounter it, and if we still aren’t fond we say, “I don’t like it yet.” The “yet” means you haven’t given up! Around the 8th time you try a food with a positive attitude, you’ll most likely enjoy it. It worked for us!
Now for the most important part: do they taste good? Yes! They are excellent, vibrantly flavored, summery tomatoes. The hardest part is getting any for yourself, because if you do take them somewhere, you inevitably end up letting curious people try your oddball tomatoes. They’re instant conversation fodder.
Throw a couple ‘Reisetomate aus Siebenbürgen’ tomatoes, a sandwich, and a sprig of fresh basil into a bag and it’s the perfect quick, portable meal!
The knife in this picture was so I could slice them and squeeze out the seed gel (for seed saving purposes). It’s an unnecessary tool for these tomatoes.
After trialing these for a couple years I highly recommend them! If they get sold out there are some similar varieties, such as ‘Voyage’ and ‘Riesenstraube’, also available at Amishland Heirloom Seeds.
* I received a negative comment in reference to the Slate article at the top of this post. I can understand why — I don’t really enjoy the snobby attitude that the article’s author seems to brandish like a badge — in spite of liking some of the info he presented. The fact is that when we tried his method of repeatedly tasting the foods we hated (with a positive attitude), we both learned to love those foods. That’s proof enough to me that it can work. Maybe it wouldn’t for other people. I think the key here is “with a positive attitude.” It’s something we both really wanted to do, not something I forced my child to do against her will. We enjoy being broad omnivores. I think each person knows themselves and their children best, and there is no “duty” to force your kids to eat everything on the planet. If you don’t have a desire to learn to like a food or you think your child isn’t at a place where this would be beneficial to him/her, then by all means go with your own parental or personal decisions. You know your needs best. This post is just meant to illustrate something that worked for us, not a mandate. If you are interested, the commenter offered these two links as an alternative to the Slate article:
** I tried to research the latest developments on genetics & psychology in regards to taste and found that the internet largely disagrees about what study results mean. I liked this NOVA Q&A on the subject. At any rate, this blog post was meant to offer a creative suggestion for trying to get your kids to work with you on liking tomatoes. I certainly don’t condone making them feel badly if it doesn’t work.