If a child doesn't like to eat spicy ethnic food, does that somehow diminish their ethnicity? Does eating a particular type of cuisine or food define your ethnicity in any way? I think not. If you saw what kind of foods my kids love to eat, you would definitely label them as Italian or Chinese children, not Pakistani-American. They love anything with pasta and noodles, and could literally live off fried rice and chinese curries. But when it comes to Pakistani food, which always has a touch of green or red pepper, they can't handle most of it. This has been bothering my husband alot lately, who fears our kids are losing their culture. Hearing the war stories of his friends' kids doesn't help much either, most of whom brag about their kids' abilities to eat spicy foods like it was some badge of honor or degree of desiness.
Here's a sample of the words these "proud" parents have to say about their kids:
"My kid only eats desi food"
"My kid asks for extra red pepper, it's not spicy enough"
"My kid has been eating spicy food since he was 8 months old"
"I don't need to make a separate meal for my toddler, he eats whatever the rest of the family is eating, even if it's spiced up your ass Nihari"
Or here's the best one:
"My kids don't have a problem with spicy food, they're desi" (Good for you, now pardon me while I find something non-spicy from the buffet for the Italians I gave birth to.)
It's not that I haven't tried introducing Pakistani food to the kids. They actually enjoy mildly spiced lentil curries and the non-spicy rice pilaf dishes I make for them. Their favorite Pakistani dishes are dal chawwal (lentils and rice), kitchri, mattar pulau, chicken pulau, and parathas (I buy the frozen ready made kind, you think I have the time to make these breads from scratch???) So I think it's fair to say they are giving the Pakistani cuisine a chance, but they like the spices to be mild to none. They do not like food to be spiced the way my husband likes it, food so spicy it makes your nose run. I've tried to feed them these spiced up foods, but they can't manage it, and after guzzling down glasses of water, refuse to eat it again. Then I end up having to make pasta and sauce (again) because they are still hungry. As long as I make the food mild, the kids will eat it, the husband will just have to deal with the hot chillies on the side.
Also, the kids deserve a break, they are only 4 and 2 right now, they have the rest of their lives to eat spicy food. Just because they are rejecting spicy chicken curry before they've entered pre-school doesn't mean they will never try it, or love it. My kids used to hate cheese and now they love it, tastes change throughout a person's lifetime, but certainly enjoying the cuisine of a culture other than your own doesn't mean you're a sellout. As for those "Super Desi Moms" (I'm sure you all know at least one), I used to let them get to me, making me feel like I seriously messed up because my kids can't manage a seekh kabob, but I brush it off now. If bragging about your kids' abilities to eat spicy foods is your high point in life then more power to you. My kids are already very picky eaters, I don't want to complicate my life further by trying to get them to accept chillies when it's not essential to their nutrition.