Having recently entertained my niece and nephew for about 30 hours straight, and every snack and mealtime being somewhat of a struggle, I was interested in this article about eating together called, appropriately,The Benefits of Eating Together. There are things I learned from this - including to keep the mood light when it comes to manners instruction. There is many a night when I screech (quite heavily, nothing light about it) at someone to quit scraping their fork against their teeth or to stop with the slurping. My job and now soccer will ensure that there are nights when we don't eat together. Also: it will not be me who teaches my children to cook. Other friends do it beautifully - making cookies together, their urchins sneaking in the kitchen to prepare a surprise birthday cake...but I'm just not that good at it so I suck as a model and teacher.
That said, my daughter made pesto this week and my son scrambled an egg this morning. Maybe I should just avoid baking...which I do anyway!
I do feel like my children are open to trying new things, and they definitely go from strong dislike to acceptance after several introductions to a given food. They still have strong preferences, especially for packed lunches at school, but as long as it is healthy and well-balanced I usually give in to a certain whim.
Just don't say, "I hate this" or "I don't want any of that" at my table. I work far too hard shopping, planning and preparing to hear that crap.
By the way, the above article is from a fun site that is helping me track my exercise...Spark People. It has been sort of fun, for now, anyway, to see my progress. Try it out.