Articles & News - Parental Palate Perspectives

I read an interesting article yesterday that made me really think about my relationship with food versus my parents' relationships with food. The article focused on the tension that the author felt between the kids of the family and the parents when it came to food. The children had grown up and moved to more artisan food-centric areas such as New York and San Francisco from their hometown of San Antonio. Thus, reunions with the parents lead to frustrations and disagreements on what constitutes good food - I believe she even stated that there are often shouting matches!

Well, I'm not that bad with my parents. In fact, for the general part, they are quite open to the foods I cook because they know that I have put some work into it. I think they try the food more out of courtesy to my effort and love for me than out of curiosity about the new types of food I try to introduce into the household. When it comes to eating out, they steer towards either Asian restaurants or make the argument that it doesn't make sense to eat out because it's cheaper at home (the latter option being more common). As the article's author points out, much of the older generation (particularly immigrants) grew up looking at food as just sustenance. What filled your stomach was what got you through the day. Who needed all the pomp and fluff that accompanies much of the food we consume today? Food was a means of survival.

Are we so spoiled now that we must have our plates given to us with artistic flourishes and unused droplets of reductions/pestos/etc on the borders? I included a picture above of when my parents went to North Carolina for my graduation at Duke. I took them to a cafe I really enjoyed but the menu contained much outside of their knowledge. They had me order for them and generally liked what I got since I based my choices off of their tastes but they did question almost everything and definitely scrunched their noses at the bill. No heated arguments ensued (unlike in the author's case) but the differences were still visible. Questions like, "Why do they give so little?" "Why does it cost so much?" "Why is everything complicated?" arose during lunch, and I didn't have satisfactory answers.

Are they wrong? Am I wrong? The generational gap that comes with every family touches on many things but because food is so ingrained in our culture and society, regardless of whether it's considered high or low-brow, it can become a point of contention. My mom is always asking me why I eat out so often and points to it as the reason for weight gain. I ask her why she doesn't want to try new things and tell her that her diet needs to change for better health reasons. Small things but constant reminders of differences. I have just been re-inspired to keep to my roots as I move forward in my food exploration; after all, my mom was the one who got me interested in food in the first place! On the plus side, my older brother moved to New York earlier this year so we definitely have grown closer over newfound foods and palate changes. During this holiday season, I encourage you to read the article and think about it & the following quote from it:

Dr. [William J. Doherty, a social science professor at the University of Minnesota,] suspects that parents in suburban and rural areas harbor unspoken pride in their children’s culinary snobbery. Yes, we can be insufferable to dine with, but we can also afford to eat out and learn about foods that were not available where we grew up. But like working-class parents who sacrificed to send their children to college, only to find that they have little in common, different tastes can also highlight familial growing pains.
“Food is a symptom and a symbol of change and how people grow apart,” said Heather Paxson, an anthropology professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “People want their kids to do better, but there’s also the fear that they’ll be left behind or judged as lacking in some way.”

Reader questions: Do you have disagreements with your parents when it comes to food? How bad are they? What are your and your parents' perspectives on food? Where are each of you coming from?

Orignal article:



  1. Super interesting! Personally I don't really have these issues, but my dad likes to eat out frequently and my mom only rarely likes to. My dad tends to eat breakfast and lunch out most days, but eats dinner at home when my mom cooks it. This doesn't cause heated arguments, tough my mom occasionally complains about it to me.

  2. What about the type of food each one of you eats? I know that sometimes people have particular things they will or will not eat, and the differences are pretty apparent (at least for me) between the children and parents.