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My Little Carnivore

My daughter Beth-Rose is an unabashed meat eater. She enjoys almost every type of meat. She likes to brag about her love of meat, but she can still find a way to be picky about it. Want a chicken drumstick? Sure! How about steak? Absolutely! Have a hamburger? Yes please! Spaghetti with meat sauce? Um, not so much! It’s true, she can do without the ground beef, unless it’s in a hamburger. And the chicken has to be on the bone. None of these boneless breasts for her.

I think there’s something inherently primal about eating meat off the bone. It works well for Beth-Rose, because she really doesn’t like using utensils. Admittedly Heather and I have been pretty slack when it comes to teaching our children how to use a knife and fork. They both seem to prefer their hands to utensils. We often scold them for their lack of table skills, but who can blame them? We never showed them the finer skills of cutting and stabbing food with sharp metal implements. Did we think they would acquire these skills by osmosis? And why were we so lax in our guidance? We teach and train our children daily of various life skills, why not the use of eating tools?

Zachary is a little better when it comes to using his utensils. True, he’s a couple of years older, but we also never really showed him the best way to use a knife and fork. A couple of brief demonstrations here and there, but he was on his own for the most part. Maybe he just got tired of licking off his fingers, or wiping them on his shirt.

I have a friend at work whose child absolutely hates getting his hands dirty. She has some very funny stories about the lengths he will go to keep his hands unsoiled and spic and span. I think Zach might have started to develop this same distaste for grubby fingers, so he began to use the tools. Not so my little Beth-Rose. She positively enjoys the down-and-dirty experience of greasy paws and finger-lickin’ good food. And her absolutely favourite finger food is ribs. Slap a plate of saucy, sticky, savory ribs in front of her and she’s the happiest little carnivore around.

A couple of years ago we were in Mexico on Spring Break, visiting the kids’ grandparents and Heather’s aunt and uncle. One night we all went out to a local restaurant to enjoy some good music, good food and great company. One of the specials was a rack of barbecue ribs. The grandparents split a rack, Heather’s aunt and uncle split a rack, and I had my own rack. (Zach had a cheeseburger.) Oh, and Beth-Rose? She had her own rack of ribs. A 5-year-old girl sitting at the table with the biggest, cheesiest, greasiest grin on her face, eating an entire rack of ribs. And she did eat the entire plate of “meatcicles”. Then she proceeded to dance the night away. Our little party girl!

A friend of mine does a pretty mean rib recipe. He brought some to work one time, and I took some leftovers home to share with my little carnivore. They immediately became her favourite. She would start to ask for “Bobby’s Ribs”. He’s even brought ribs in for me to take home with the strict condition that they’re for Beth-Rose. Well I like them too! Nope, they’re for her.

Beth-Rose enjoys a plate of “Bobby’s Ribs”.

I guess it is our fault our daughter prefers to use her fingers to eat with over a knife and fork. I’m sure that as she gets older she will, like her big brother, decide to start using utensils for eating her meals. But unlike Zachary, it may not be until she’s old enough to drive!


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[…] my daughter Beth-Rose was the definition of “carnivore”. Although she has become more of a picky eater […]

Shirley Yeats
Shirley Yeats
8 years ago

Michael, I just subscribed to your wonderful site, and read six of your posts. so far. I love them all, but my favorite is this! The video of B-R munching away at those ribs was hilarious, and it is lovely to watch a child get so much joy from a simple meal. No worries at all about the use of utensils. She’s a very smart girl and I’m sure has the capability to turn on her etiquette whenever she pleases!

8 years ago

Isn’t there a danger you’re doing Beth-Rose a disservice by not teaching her the basic rudiments of cutlery usage and basic table manners ? Imagine if she goes alone to a new friend’s house for lunch or dinner and she uses her carnivorous table manners she’s left wide open to being mocked.We know how cruel kids can be. Example : 14 years from now she’s in Europe where middle class good basic family table manners are taken as the norm. Once again she’s a potential target for ridicule. We don’t want people thinking she and all Canadians are Neanderthals

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