View from the terrace of the family's Brooklyn Heights apartment

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Recently on line I clicked the photo of a cute little girl with what looked like suds all over her face. She was having a marvelous time, it seemed, scooping stuff covered with colorful sprinkles from a wide cup with a large spoon. Aha! I said to myself babyccino must be cappuccino for a little kid. The fad, according to the text, originated in Park Slope, Brooklyn--not far from where I grew up. Though I’m a bit of a curmudgeon, supposedly immune to kitchy fluff, I found the clip endearing.

It was the appended comments I found over the top. Unhealthy! one irate commentator chided, tantamount to child abuse! Others were outraged at the kind of stuck-up gentrifyers who’d spoil their brats with such an outrageous concoction. Derogatory comments went on for pages. Really, I thought, what has become of us? To me, the babyccino was a contemporary equivalent of a Mickey Mouse, the ginger ale with a cherry served to little kids in restaurants when mom and dad were having a cocktail. Completely harmless.

Of course the world has changed since I was a kid. Everything we thought was healthy, like bread, milk, eggs, butter, and potatoes, is now to be avoided and the things we despised, like broccoli and asparagus, are promoted enthusiastically by nutritionists. And recently we’ve been told that the substitutes for the proscribed staples are as bad or worse for our health than the natural products themselves! Wisdom suggests that we ignore much of this sage advice and eat or drink modest portions of whatever we like.

What struck me about many of these online comments about babyccino were their extremity and tone. Perhaps, like the sharp political divisions in congress and among the American people, there is no longer a center, a moderate view of anything, just extreme views. We no longer tolerate a different take on a question. We’ve been taught that those who disagree with us are evil, whether it’s a matter of national health insurance or a hot drink for a kid. Me, I’m all for a babyccino for this little girl, but being a purist I’d recommend they hold the sprinkles.

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