Talking with my Teen: Guavas, Tomatoes, Blueberries and Vegetables

Claire and Minnie

Claire and Minnie

My oldest daughter is officially a teenager. Suppressed memories of my awkward and frightening teenage years have come flooding back. Middle School and High School are times in my life I want to forget.

Thankfully, my two dogs, Tippy and Tuffy, helped get me through those years. I hope our cat, Minnie, helps my daughter successfully navigate her middle school years.

Communicating with Teens

Communication with my teen daughter is “tense”, some reasons  could be:

  • the constant glares I receive when I try to engage; i.e. “the Claire glare”
  • my teen doesn’t feel comfortable communicating verbally and expressing feelings
  • my fear of reliving middle school years affects my ability to listen

My daughter is able to verbally communicate when she wants me to do something for her (i.e. buy her something or take her somewhere), but other than that, conversation is a bit “stifled”.  I’d like to have lengthier intimate conversations with my teen.  Some ideas on achieving this are:

  • She can keep her cellphone if she answers the phone when I call (every time)
  • I’ll talk with her about what she is interested in ( Sims) and I’ll  listen to what she has to say
  • I’ll ask fun questions ( Table Topics)

I am hopeful that eventually we will have conversations on things we both have interest in: food and science. She told me she likes science and even thinks about being a food scientist. I couldn’t be prouder. The afternoon I took off from work to speak to her 5th grade class about flavors was worth it.

My teen and I (Turtle Bay-2016)

My teen & I (Turtle Bay-2016)


One recent conversation I’ve had with her involved her impressions of food flavor. My daughter is extremely sensitive to flavor. Some feelings about the flavor of food that she has expressed very well:

  • unripe guava reminds me of tomatoes:  “I hate tomatoes and don’t like “those” guavas, but I still love guava cake”
  • “fresh blueberries are yucky; they remind me of vegetables”

I mentioned to her that her flavor impressions can be “validated” scientifically.  There are similar flavor components in guava and tomato. As well as similar flavor components in blueberries and vegetables.  Ratios vary based on genetic make-up of plant and horticultural status(is the fruit ripe, when is the fruit picked).

Chemical flavor volatiles that exist in both guava and tomato include:  Methyl cinnamate, cis-3-Hexenol, Ethyl acetate, trans-2-Hexenal, Hexanol, Benzaldehyde, Dimethyl sulfide

Chemical flavor volatiles that exist in both blueberries and vegetables include:  cis-3-Hexenol, trans-2-Hexenal, Hexanol, Dimethyl sulfide, l-Linalool, trans-2-Octenal, iso-Valeraldehyde.

Since I understand her thoughts on flavor are valid; I also need to understand that her thoughts on other aspects of life are also valid.

If I listen and she talks, can make it through these “teen years”?



  1. Susie Q,
    Can you tell me why yellow papayas taste like nicotine to me? I will only eat the red, Caribbean variety.

    • Susie Bautista says:

      Hi Marycake: I haven’t tasted “nicotine” by itself. When I “google” the taste of nicotine it is described as “peppery”. Is this how you would describe nicotine? Susie

  2. Glad you’re back to writing more posts! I was wondering when you would write again.

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