When I was little, my favorite part of Saturday was waking up early to watch Family Double Dare with my dad. Every time I move I hope that my cable company offers the Nick Games and Sports channel so I can indulge my love for shows like Legends of the Hidden Temple and GUTS. Anyway, perhaps the second best part of Saturday was sitting down to a plate piled high with chocolate chip pancakes. And not just any pancakes–my mom was an expert at creating letters, numbers and a whole mess of fun shapes with Bisquick batter. She’d make our initials or spell out “LOVE” or use cookie cutters to form hearts and flowers. My sisters and I each had a strategy for eating: Which shape do you tear through first?
When you were growing up, your parents probably told you not to play with your food. But creativity goes a long way to improve the experience of cooking and eating, and so maybe kids are on to something. After all, picky eaters can be persuaded to try just about anything if it looks cool. Japanese parents are known for sending their children to school with bento boxes, elaborate lunches in which food takes the shape of animals, cars, cartoon characters etc. An anthropology professor once told me that bento boxes are a huge source of pride, and parents go to great lengths to outshine others with the most elaborate creations.
So why not regress to your younger (and more carefree) years for your next brunch? Spell out your name in pancakes, build a house out of waffle squares and whipped cream or create characters with fried eggs. For that matter, get some colorful plastic (read: kid-proof) plates and picnic on the living room floor while watching cartoons. This exercise is guaranteed to brighten your day.