Last month I ate at a new restaurant called Duka-Duck-Doo. Off the beaten path, this hidden gem was a true find. Upon first entering I was a bit skeptical. There were no tables and chairs and the plates were made out of flip-flops. Patrons were encouraged to eat with plastic shovels and the chef , who was visible from the dining room, was wearing nothing more than a pair of socks. I debated leaving; I wasn’t sure that I was up for such an edgy avant-garde eating adventure but before I could gather my things to go, the chef emerged from the kitchen and delivered a heaping pile of pink noodles to my flip-flop plate. “Eat this,” she said as she scooped the noodles out with her bare hands.

“Well actually I was just one my way out,” I said. “See I only just stumbled upon this restaurant and I’ve got to get back to work and…”

“EAT THIS!” she interrupted and sat down, bare butt right on my lap.

“Ok,” I said, not wanting to offend the culinary dictator.

Much to my surprise the noodles went down like a shot of warm milk. They were at once salty and soft. They took me back to my days in preschool when I used to sneak bites of homemade playdough when the teacher wasn’t looking. It was lovely. “This is fantastic!” I gushed. The chef was thrilled by my effusive praise and immediately ran off to the kitchen to whip up more homemade miracles. The rest of the meal unfolded like a dream (the kind of dream where you’re suddenly navigating a canoe through a vat of marshmallows while being chased by a sea turtle but find it all to be mysteriously pleasant). There was blueberry beef, cheese drink, and “ickle bickle” (an elaborate mixture of plastic figurines and bath crayons) At one point the chef began catapulting small bits of cereal at my face. I just opened my mouth and caught whatever I could. It was very exciting!

At the end of the meal I pulled out my wallet. For all the amazing food that I ate I was ready for a three-figure bill.  Much to my surprise however the cook emerged from the kitchen and asked, “Can I hold a boobie?” I put my wallet back in my purse. I figured this indulgence would serve as my payment. It was an unforgettable meal!

But…ever since opening Ducka-Ducka-Doo, my daughter (the chef and owner) has become a total food snob!  It’s almost unbearable. She acts as if owning a restaurant gives her the right to stick up her nose up at all sustenance. It’s like trying to pick a dinner wine with someone who’s just returned from a trip to France. It sucks! She asks for milk. I bring her milk. If it sits for more than three minutes she demands new milk. “This isn’t fresh!” she says.  I go the fridge and pretend to pour more milk. I return the cup to her. She takes a sip and spits the milk out like it’s toxic. “THIS ISN”T FRESH. I WANT FRESH!” she shouts.

I can’t keep up with these demands, not unless I plan on investing in a dairy cow. And it doesn’t stop with beverages. She used to be content with bananas and oranges  (the more reasonably priced fruits) but now she insists we buy raspberries and blackberries. Out of season these bush berries can cost upwards of six bucks for a tiny little carton (which she downs in five minutes flat). It’s insane. And if she doesn’t like the food that’s put before her she just announces it to the world. Sometimes without even tasting it first:

“This fish is yucky”

“But you haven’t eaten any yet!”

“But it’s yucky”

“How do you know?”

“IT’S YUCKY, IT’S YUCKY, IT’S YUCKY!!! I want something else.”

I want to say to her, “Listen, you own your own restaurant. Why don’t you whip up your own meal…oh that’s right, because if you tried to subsist on a diet of play dough, soap and synthetic beads you’d starve!!!”

I really just don’t know what to do. If I shut down her operation, her dreams of someday becoming a five star destination will be crushed. As her mother and patron, I don’t want that. If I let her carry on as a restaurateur, breakfast, lunch, and dinner are going to be a nightmare in our household. All I can do is hope time will smooth things over. Just like the friend who took that trip to France and came back drinking only things that had been aged longer then he’d been alive, I’m guessing she too will soon realize that the dream of perfection is just a dream…eventually we all just have to drink what’s in our cup and eat what’s on our plate.