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Camouflage or hidden?

"To camouflage - to hide something, or to hide the truth about something" Cambridge English Dictionary

"To hide - to prevent something from being seen" Cambridge English Dictionary

You may or may not know that another thing I do to keep boredom at bay is to take photographs as I walk. Just doing that used to be sufficient. Photographing anything that caught my eye, but then I ran out of things to photograph and so with a group of friends we instituted a photographic challenge each week. A topic to focus on. It's been great as it makes you look at the world in all sorts of new and different ways. The topics are chosen by the group and family members who all have a turn at choosing the topic but don't have to participate. This week my youngest grandson chose 'camouflage' mostly because he was wearing some camouflage pants at the time. Anyway I thought about it, decided I would slightly expand it to include 'hidden' and we were off. Above are two of my photographs so far - two of the better ones I guess. On the left is camouflage and on the right is hidden - I think they are spider's egg sacs, hidden in an old child's swing that is mouldering in the garden.

However, as you can see from the definitions that started me off, the difference between 'camouflage' and 'hide' is really somewhat subtle. I suppose that camouflage is more a blending into a particular background and hiding is rather more complete. But, as I say the difference is very subtle. The Cambridge Dictionary uses the word 'hide' in that particular definition of 'camouflage' twice.

Anyway, today I thought I would have a look at those two concepts in relation to food.

I suppose the obvious application is to children who don't like vegetables. How do you get them to eat them? First let me say that there's probably a way of getting children to enjoy eating their vegetables. I wasn't a great success at that I have to say, although I don't really remember not liking anything myself. Mind you we had a fairly limited range of options back then. Maybe it was because we helped in the kitchen? Who knows. However, I do remember my aunt once cooking us spinach and telling us it was cabbage. I remember thinking it didn't taste quite the same as cabbage, and I wasn't absolutely sure that I liked it but I did eat it. Did I know spinach and didn't like it or was it new to me? I can't remember.

Perhaps one of the things that helped me try new things was the fact that it was drilled into me that if I was offered something by somebody else, then I should eat it. It would be rude to refuse. Which very possibly helped me when I eventually went to France and where my vegetable repertoire expanded - well at least in the way that those vegetables were cooked.

The only other incident I can remember to do with hiding unpleasant things was half an aspirin that I was given once - probably for a really bad cold with a temperature. It was served up to me on a teaspoon hidden in a spoonful of jam. Other unpleasant things though - like cod liver oil - we just had to take as they were.

These days hiding vegetables for children has become much more sophisticated. We never had things like tomato sauce in which to hide them. Tomato sauce came in a bottle, and I suppose it still does, but lots of people do make their own tomato sauce these days for pizza or spaghetti. This is Jamie Oliver's 7 Veg Tomato Sauce. I just watched his video and I have to say I was impressed at how lackadaisical it was and how many vegetables he got into it. The carrot was unpeeled, as was the butternut squash. The peppers just had the stalk removed - everything else went in - just broken up by hand. He did peel the onions, and the leeks were chopped, but the basil stalks went in and when finally the whole thing was chucked into a blender a bunch of basil, stalks and all was thrown in too. Even the tinned whole tomatoes were just chucked in whole. Not a lot of preparation and most likely a very tasty sauce at the end. I guess the value of tomatoes is that they do have a fairly strong taste and that probably dominated, and the others just blended in with it. Call it tomato sauce for them and they'd never know.

Of course you can throw those vegetable and unloved fruits into anything if it's going to end up blended - like smoothies for example. I have to say that I tried smoothies for a while and threw in things I wasn't that fond of - like milk - and oats. They always tasted delicious no matter what you put in them it seemed to me - well as long as you had at least one fruit with a relatively strong flavour that you liked. So hiding the odd vegetable in a strawberry smoothie for example is probably OK.

It doesn't work if the vegetables are on full view though, even if they have almost disappeared as in a slow-cooked stew or tray-bake. If the child - or indeed adult - can see it, then they will pick it out and not eat it.

Besides there is a view that you shouldn't hide foods the child doesn't like, which causes derisive remarks, such as the one below from 'real mothers'.

“They should love vegetables as vegetables and hiding them in foods discourages them to try them as whole foods.

Those people have clearly never met my children, and perhaps your’s." The Everyday Mom Life

Maybe I was just a cowardly mum. My younger son, for example insists that his children try anything new before they are allowed to reject it. I suspect I didn't try some things because of fear of rejection. And yet, I remember, when I had to purée food for my young babies, that my older son once ate some sauerkraut that we had had for dinner. So puréeing things in with things they like is a really good strategy.

What do you do however, when you have an adult with an ever increasing list of dislikes? Actually you can follow the same basic creed of camouflage and hiding. That is if the ingredient can be smuggled in and is not too dominant but just adds that special something to your dish. Anchovies are a pretty good example. As are small amounts of chilli. Harder to hide the taste of coconut though because that is usually the main flavour when it is used and not something that you would be able to hide.

Maybe one can do what some dieticians do with people with food intolerances and allergies. Gradually increase the intake. I wonder if that would work with chilli? I suppose you could hide avocado by liquidising it with other things, but why would you do that?

This is another one of my camouflage photos showing how we tried to hide the pipes by painting them the same colour of the wall. Yes they are camouflaged, but you can still see them quite clearly. they just look marginally better than they would have if they remained unpainted. I suspect that that is what will happen if I try to hide - for example - coconut milk - from my husband. Perhaps that's the difference. Camouflage is not as effective, however, good, as actually hiding something.

"Have you ever noticed how people who wear camouflage gear really stand out in a crowd? Peter Thomas


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