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Hungry Monkey: A Food-Loving Father's Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater Paperback – April 9, 2010
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Seattle dad and food critic Amster-Burton wants his daughter to grow up fearlessly savoring a wide range of appealing foods, something beyond untutored childhood’s bland fodder and ubiquitous processed foods persistently marketed to television-watching adolescents. He believes that developing a child’s taste for uncommon produce, meats, fish, herbs, and spices lies in early exposure to their flavors and being sure that baby sees Mom and Dad relishing a spectrum of victuals. One by one, Amster-Burton debunks widely held opinions about feeding toddlers, such as withholding salt, sushi, or spices. And he’s not averse to cooking with wine or allowing his daughter a tiny sip of beer. Recipes include a number of Mexican favorites, even highly seasoned Thai and Chinese dishes, all designed to be simply and quickly prepared. Any parent frustrated by an offspring’s dismissive “Yuck!” will find some usefully novel approaches here to patient cultivation of adventuresome palates. --Mark Knoblauch
—Anthony Bourdain, author of Kitchen Confidential
"Matthew Amster-Burton is equal parts Mario Batali, Ray Romano, Dr. Spock of toddler cuisine, and Mr. Spock of toddler logic. He's a national and intergalactic culinary and literary treasure."
— Steven Shaw, author of Turning the Tables and co-founder of eGullet
"This charming, funny book is full of great ideas for family meals. In a world of culinary pandering to kids, where vegetables in disguise pass for cuisine, Amster-Burton gets the recipe right." --Neal Pollack, author of Alternadad
"With its incisive wit and hilarious stories about Iris, Hungry Monkey made me want to have a child-- just so I could start feeding her." --Shauna James Ahern, author of Gluten-Free Girl
"Matthew Amster-Burton cast some sort of enchantment over me as I read about his all-too-real-life culinary adventures with his daughter. The proof? I actually found myself thinking: if Matthew were my dad, I don't think I'd mind being a little girl... or even a sock monkey... if I got my share of every meal." -- John Thorne, author of Outlaw Cook and Mouth Wide Open
"Matthew Amster-Burton has written a wonderful book. It reads so well you won't be able to put it down...except when overcome by a need to rush to your kitchen and execute one or another of his winning recipes." -- Paula Wolfert, author of The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen
“Matthew Amster-Burton is smart, funny, a terrific writer, a great cook and on track to be voted father-of-the-year every year for the next decade, at least. How lucky for Iris, a.k.a. Hungry Monkey, that she landed in the Amster-Burton family and how really lucky for us that we can tag along on their adventures – and learn how to make pretzels and pad Thai, too.” --Dorie Greenspan, author of Baking: From My Home to Yours
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Top Customer Reviews
It does have it's humorous moments and is an easy, enjoyable read. But, for those of us trying to raise kids with similarly adventurous palates, he makes it sound too easy.
Not every anecdote results in his daughter licking her plate clean and asking for more, but his stated goal of raising an adventurous eater is accomplished very early in the book. The rest of it reads like a proud father showing off his daughter's trophy case... "and here's the time she stuffed herself with sushi... and here's the time she ate pad thai for three days straight..."
Yes, I read the entire book, but apart from debunking advice re: baby food. I did not come away with much usable advice for raising my own adventurous eaters. He acknowledges this fact, but it seems like a cop out.
The recipes at the end of each chapter were nicely annotated and looked like they'd be welcomed by my children once they get out of the "no mixed-up food" phase.
Amster-Burton should write a companion "Cooking with Iris" cookbook of his daughter-friendly recipes bolstered with excerpts of his anecdotes. I liked his idea of using an electric skillet for cooking with children.
-Amster-Burton writes about Seattle and makes me feel like an insider, even though I live in Bellevue;
-he references Bread and Jam For Frances multiple times, which is possibly the best book ever written;
-he got a 5 on my humor rating scale, meaning I was laughing out loud to myself AND making my husband listen as I read funny parts aloud;
-the way he talks about food and feeding his family is equal parts Anthony Bourdain and M.F.K. Fisher, which is no easy feat.
What I was drawn to most in this book is the author's respect for both his daughter and the food they make together. Their relationship as depicted in the book is really quite lovely and illustrates that one does not have to dumb down conversations, expectations, ideas or flavors just because one lives with someone who happens to be a toddler.
And, on a personal note, as I sat in a nearly empty restaurant today and waited for our order that I could SEE on the warming tray for over 15 minutes (including one child's order of mini hamburgers and grapes...yawn) while my own toddler got increasingly flappy and bouncy in her high chair, I thought about our last visit to our favorite sushi place where she happily ate her fill of tamago sushi and edamame as soon as we sat down. Then I thought about Hungry Monkey and realized that I'm glad to have its message, its spirit and its recipes to guide me through these next several years of eating, cooking and throwing food on the floor.
Instead, I absolutely loved this book. There are only two Rules and they're pretty dang easy to follow. A week after buying the book, reading it, rereading it, and making my husband read it, my son took his first bite of some of the best gyoza in town. And he loved it. There are some things he doesn't love yet, like ice cream, which makes me suspect that he's a changeling. But all-in-all our whole approach towards feeding our son has morphed into something a lot like the approach we have towards feeding ourselves. Eat good food, and enjoy it!
All in all, a well written book that needs to be read by anyone who is absolutely dreading a future of the white-foods-only phase.