Monday Maven *The Daddy Edition*
(What is a more masuline term for Maven…if anyone can think of one I will use that instead 😉 )
Full Name: Ben Rhau
Location: San Francisco
kids: Esme, “I’m three like a Dolphin.”
One Word that Describes You: Difficult for me to choose one that doesn’t make me sound like a major dork. I’ll go with “particular.” I’m sure my wife will agree.
What makes you smile? This is not going to be a terribly original answer, but basically everything my daughter does makes me smile. She is a funny, little goblin.
What is one of your Goals you hope to accomplish soon? I’m a senior graduate student working toward a PhD in biophysics. I hope to finish soon and move on to the next thing.
One of Your favorite moments as a Father? It happens all the time, but watching those quantum leaps in development that happen with kids this age just blows me away. When Esme was two, she spontaneously sang all the lyrics to “Mansard Road” by Vampire Weekend. It’s on YouTube, and it’s precious.
What do you enjoy doing for yourself as a hobby or just to relax? Actually, the blog plays that role in my life. Between parenting and being a grad student, I quickly found that I was leaving no time for myself. I gave up most other hobbies and chose cooking and writing. The cooking part is definitely relaxing. The writing–at times it’s meditative and at other times torturous. But it’s very, very exciting to have found something that I am this passionate about. It feels a bit like falling in love.
What have you accomplished that you are most proud of? I guess being comfortable with myself. I grew up in an environment where I was expected to achieve, and as a result, I was afraid to try things that I didn’t think I would be good at. After age 30, I learned how to swim, I went back to school, taught myself to cook, started my blog… You need confidence in yourself to try these things, and I think a lot of people would be surprised at what they can do when they allow themselves to be beginners. I was fortunate enough to have found an emotionally supportive environment for that, and if nothing else, that’s what I’d like to provide for my family.
Favorite Meal? These questions are always so tough, like asking “What’s your favorite book?” Many, for different reasons. I’ll answer this question: What would I choose to be my last meal on earth? The answer is spaghettini with garlic and oil. And perhaps a bit of parmigiano reggiano.
Who is your hero? There are many that I admire, but if I had to choose one I would say Julia Child. The growing farm-to-table movement and heightened interest in/awareness about sustainable agriculture could not have happened without some fairly revolutionary changes in the way this country thinks about food. None of that could have happened without Julia Child introducing French technique to an American home audience. The fact that so many people, particularly young people of this generation, have such a keen interest in food and cooking really gives me hope for our future, and our families.
Your advice to parents that want to keep their kids from going down the picky eating road? How do you keep yourself involved in cooking with or for your children? I’m just trying to hang in there, like the rest of you. Keep trying. Offer new foods regularly, persistently, and without prejudice. If your kid is a picky or small eater (like mine), I think you need to be OK with it. I was a very picky eater until I was in high school, and now I can’t wait to try things that I’ve never had before.
As for helping out in the kitchen, my daughter absolutely loves to do that. Shelling peas, pouring batter, mixing things. It takes some patience, but cooking with your child is much more rewarding than plopping them down in from of a TV while you try to bang it out. But I also understand that, sometimes, that’s the only way it’s going to happen!