When you were a child and got for dinner french fries and spinach for instance. What did you eat first?
1) the spinach in order to recompense yourself with the fries
2) the french fries first because you like them most?
I am fascinated about how children handle this question. Two years olds already have their taste. Some like meat, some like fruits, some like vegetables (usually carrots). But they do not have any strategy. You can’t tell them eat “your spinach/ Brussels sprouts and afterwards you will have strawberries or ice-cream”.
At the age of five, children understand already a lot about the world. They have intentions, can plan their actions, can make choices and discuss the reasons that determinated their choices. And in way you can bribe them to make them eat some (not all) the food they dislike.
Most of the people eat their favorite food at the end.
We all learned that duty comes first and pleasure is just a reward. That’s probably a milestone of any civilization.
Life is short, eat dessert first.
Then the French fries.
Try to pass the spinach to the dog.
Mom was really very traditional about dinner. She always had a meat, a starch, and a vegetable or two. Salad was usually available, bread and butter were on the table. Everyone was expected to be at the table at 6pm, we kids learned to tell time even without a watch. My father also had a voice that you could hear from anywhere in the neighborhood. When he called dinner, we better come running. "I didn't hear you" was NOT acceptable - that would just get you in more trouble for being someplace out of the neighborhood at dinner time.
The kids got a plate with everything already on it. Before we could take seconds of anything we liked we had to finish the vegetables on the plate. It was a sign of maturity of you were trusted to load your own plate properly. I went late getting it passed to me :-)
Mom always had some candy hidden so dessert for eating your dinner was not usually a problem. The biggest problem was mom had no finesse with vegetables at all. They were usually all just boiled or steamed and spinach was a particular overcooked mess.
My Italian grandmother (father's mother) had a totally different approach to food. Meat was secondary (or sometimes forgotten!) starch was pasta or risotto (never any potatoes) and meals were a celebration of vegetables, especially whatever was fresh. We had no problems eating vegetables (even eggplant or zucchini!) at nana's house because she made them well and they were an integral part of the meal. She had great homemade or bakery bread. Nana never had "dessert". She might make something for a birthday or celebration but every day dessert was fruit, nuts or figs. Nana liked figs.
When school was out breakfast was normally at nanas house for me - before work on the 'farm' I could get a wonderful pepper and egg sandwich. You just showed up, and she had it ready.
Ahhh well. I miss them.