I had a playdate recently where I set up some routine but joyless snacks for the kids—most likely pretzels and grapes, or graham crackers and raisins—and my son said, “I want eggs.” Then my daughter, always quick to jump on the bandwagon, started chanting that she wanted eggs too.
Before I could roll my eyes at the predictability of kids always wanting something other than what they’re offered, one of the mothers said, “I wish I would hear that sentence coming out of one of my kids’ mouths.”
It had never occurred to me that eggs might be one of those tricky foods with kids, because both my kids eat eggs, lots of ways—but all for the same reason: The Dip Principle. Years ago, when I developed recipes for childrens’ magazines but had no kids of my own, the editors would always clue me in: Kids love to dip things. It almost doesn’t matter what the dipping food is, or what the dip is—they love it. I don’t quite understand why, other than that maybe it’s an extension of that other feeding-kids principle: Kids love playing with their food. It’s certainly why both my kids love eating clams more than anything else—what can compete with snapping those shells at each other right at the otherwise-civilized dinner table?
But back to eggs. I’m not reinventing the wheel, people. It’s sunny-side up eggs with toast soldiers, just like we ate as kids, just like our parents ate as kids. And hard-boiled? Well, if you can stomach it, go ahead and let your four-year-old peel his own egg (look the other way as his thumbs dig all the way through the whites, or as he munches on bites with shell still attached). But more importantly, put out bowls of fun stuff to dip the eggs in: Salt, pepper, black or white sesame seeds, fennel seeds, paprika.
One last thing: In case you’re wondering how I handled that playdate—whether I whipped out a frying pan and started making everyone eggs? No way. Despite all this talk of eggs, I am nobody’s short-order cook.