Iso showing Coconut how to use the computer.

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My favorite part is Thor, though. He just wants to be wherever she is.

Today we went to a block sale near our house. I was looking for cooking supplies and books but found neither. My daughter, on the other hand, found two Magic School Bus books, a half-painted jewelry box, and this stuffed dog from American Girls. I’d never seen a big version of Coconut before! Of course, I’ve never looked for one, either.

We also bought two tamales from the first vendor we saw. I use the term vendor loosely, since it was really two teenaged boys–one holding a massive bundle of napkins and the other holding the handle of the ice chest– and their mom, who wore one plastic glove and wielded some tongs.

A little further along down the block we bought some mochi (what the hell is KOCHI and why does my computer’s spellcheck keep insisting that mochi does not exist???) from two Japanese ladies who were just setting up on somebody’s driveway. It is not every day you see people selling mochi on a sidewalk, so I got two red bean, two taro-peanut butter, one mango-red bean, and two miso onigiri. After we crossed the street a few blocks later, on our way home, I went back and bought all the mango-red bean she had! Ha! But seriously, you can only get this if you go to Kogetsu-Do– the Japanese bakery in town— and they are not always open when I am able to go. And this was homemade. And right there on the street, just hanging out, begging me to go and buy it (and devour it).

This was also a good time for my daughter to get introduced to mochi and onigiri. I’ve bought it before, but for some reason she is less likely to try store-bought or restaurant things than she is to try street vendor things. I know, what? Perhaps it is my aversion to processed foods run amok, or perhaps there is something in her that wants to be polite and eat the food somebody just gave her. I don’t know. Then again, she loves white rice and Japanese food in general, so maybe she tried it because I told her it was Japanese. That is the most likely reason.

Japanese food is great for picky eaters, and it got us through many toddler bad-food days.

1. California rolls and futo maki can be picked apart and eaten in toddler-portions. An activity and a food, all at once! These particular sushi have no raw fish.

By katorisi (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
OMG, futo maki is not this pretty in Fresno! But you can see, can’t you, how it is a like a food-present for a toddler? Or a grown-up?
2. It is very easy to get sauces on the side, and most often there isn’t even a sauce to contend with.

3. Most of the time, the sauce is teriyaki, which is sweet and toddler friendly. At least, my toddler was friendly with it!

4. If you get a bento-style lunch, everything is separate! Nothing touches!

By Gunawan Kartapranata (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
This picture is from Indonesia, but is standard fare in Fresno’s Japanese restaurants, too.
5. Let’s have fun with chopsticks!

6. Everything is usually presented appealingly. Unless you’re getting curry over rice, which tastes fantastic, but I think it looks a bit like throw-up. Sorry to spring that on you, but there you go.

I suppose my kid isn’t one of those clinically picky eaters that have trouble getting enough calories, but all kids go through some phase, and Japanese food helped us through hers, and continues to be her portal into other cuisines.

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