When I was young and my parents were not poor but not rich either, they tried to ingrain some simple healthy food patterns. We had meat almost every night and fish on Fridays. Now it was the style at the time, to have meat as much as you could and I do remember that some nights didn't have large amounts of meat and there was nothing wrong with that, as long as we got the protein some other way.
Friday nights brought fish in only one form and I can hear Super Chef Rick Moonen screaming, if he does read this: fish sticks. Fish sticks are made the same way that chicken nuggets are, in that it is the less quality pieces of meat, chopped up, bleached, added with preservatives and other chemicals and finally breaded and frozen. You then get these fabulous sticks and cook them in your oven for a quick and healthy meal, right? I wouldn't doubt that less than 50% of fish sticks is actually made of fish. And it was this fish product that was my first experience with fish. Fish sticks taste horrible and tasted so bad for me that I would do anything to hide their taste. My parents used that parenting attitude that you can't get up out of your chair until you eat all of your food. Well, I have 3 fish sticks on my plate that I find disgusting and I can't go outside and play or do anything till I eat them. What do I do?
To this day, my mom brings this up still: I poured chocolate sauce on them. It did a great job hiding any fish smell or taste and I ate them all. The thing is, it wasn't until on my honeymoon that my wife pushed me to try some fish and I liked it. That salmon cooked on a cedar plank at Emeril's restaurant tasted so good and so not what I thought fish would be like. Thank God for that experience and my wife doing that because if she had not, it would have been a while longer till I had re-tried fish or any seafood. Now, everywhere I go, I try some new seafood item and while I honestly didn't like everything (steamed mussels), there were some things I did like (steamed crab legs).
So, parents, please don't give your kids fish sticks or stifle their food flavors by giving them artificial things. I only wish that in hindsight that my parents had given me different forms of seafood and not the artificial ones.
(Chef Rick Moonen, if you are reading this, the next time I am in Vegas, I will let you know as I want to try some fish dishes at your restaurant.)