Given Deanna’s irritating belief that carrots can only be served as coins, it would seem that she has another commonality with Elly: the need to stress out about what her children eat. I should also think that since she has much the same sort of background Elly had in that she really wasn’t allowed to do all that much for herself, she’s just as good a cook. It seems to me that a lot of Elly’s problems stem from her blindly shoving ingredients into a pot without really considering how they’re going to taste or whether her family actually want to eat them. This is why we see strip after strip of Elly standing there looking like the world has come to an end because her children like what they like and hate what they hate no matter how sincere she is. She doesn’t seem to realize that they aren’t actually hating HER because they don’t like unpalatable sludge meant to trick children into eating things that they don’t like or that she isn’t doing herself a favour if she succeeds. No child appreciates having Mommy crow “Well, I fooled you into eating mushrooms and you didn’t die so you can’t refuse them any more” or whine “Well, I had to make a horrible sacrifice by accommodating you so you owe me.”
This, I should think, would leave Mike, Liz and April unprepared to deal with a real world in which people don’t use food as a passive-aggressive means of asserting control over them. It astonishes them to see people who don’t witlessly set out to make mealtime a tawdry horror that has to be sped along by shovelling food into one’s belly as quickly as possible. It could also explain why Mike likes hanging out at his friends’ houses; seeing the marvel with his own eyes always astonishes him. That being said, his need to think that his horrible childhood was what everyone experienced so that he will not be incapacitated by rage seems to be blinding him to Deanna’s whining that the food she pleads with Meredith and Robin to eat is something he hated when it was done to him. Since he has to think that he’s normal, he doesn’t see it as being wrong.