Since it's my second blogging anniversary this week, I have decided to repost my very first attempts at online self-publishing.
Originally published on March 25, 2008
Today, my mom and I still talk a lot about food, what we’ve made, what we’re going to make, what we’ve seen in our issue of Martha Stewart Living and would like to make. She has kept up with the times, and thanks to a world that is much more global than in was in the ’80s in terms of sources and product availability, she has become more creative and worldly in the kitchen, to the point where she now actually makes her own sushi every Sunday night. Ever since I moved out on my own and started to cook for myself and others (past roommates, friends, exes, and M), I have come up with a theory that what you eat in life will be largely dependent on your mother’s culinary tastes. Of course this implies that your mom was the person shopping for food and cooking in the house, which I know is not always the case. Growing up, we never ate things like sour cream or ranch dressing, because my mother disliked them. We ate more pies than cakes, because she preferred them. Even though I’ve developed my own tastes and tried to broaden my horizons, I find myself repeating a lot of her patterns in terms of brands I buy, cuts of meat I choose, recipes I prepare, and general habits (baking everything from scratch including bread when I have time, making my own soups, sauces, dips and dressings instead of buying them, trying to make family meals extra special, etc.)
When two people move in together, it is often a clash of two culinary cultures. M and I can’t agree on what brand of milk or eggs or yogurt to buy, since we each bought a different one before we got together. Unlike me, he’s not a fan of everything drenched in sauce or gravy, overflowing with ingredients and add-ons, and so what feels deliciously decadent to me is a tad too much for him, and what is just right for him I sometimes find “dry” and plain.
Together, we are now creating our own combined “culture” that our son will come to know. I am immensely happy that LP seemed to be a mini-foodie starting from day one. I originally planned to wait until 6 months to introduce solids, but he made me changed my mind. Even very early on, he just seemed so interested in our food… I started giving him cereal slowly at 4 months, and never regretted it. Just like he first latched on the breast like an old pro at the ripe age of 40 minutes, he seemed to know exactly what to do, and even grabbed the spoon in an attempt to get more. I do understand the rationale of delaying solids and proceeding with caution because of allergies, but I don’t think there should be a fixed age for everyone. Babies develop at very different paces: I know a little girl who walked at 9 months, while another one at my son’s daycare didn’t start before 17 months. I apparently talked pretty fluently at 16 months, but my friends’ son didn’t say much before his third birthday, after which he suddenly started to talk a lot more and his speech became clearer. If such ranges are all normal, why shouldn’t it be the same when it comes to eating?
I introduced pureed food at 5 months, and I swear that I saw a glance of relief on his face. He ate everything enthusiastically, and I’m sure that if he could talk, he would have yelled: “About time, mommy!” Several weeks before that, when I was sitting him on my lap during dinner if I wanted to buy some time before he started to fuss, he had already started to attempt grabbing food on my plate and shove it in his mouth.
I made most of his baby food from fresh, high-quality and whenever possible, organic products, and apart from a few things like strained peas, he has never met something he didn’t like. He quickly accepted increasingly thicker and coarser textures, started to eat impressive portions, and suddenly decided around 10 months that he wouldn’t have purees anymore, but rather eat what we were eating. Following his lead, I took great pleasure in introducing him to this universe, and came to think that books were way too slow and cautious about all of this. I took allergy/intolerance/toxicity concerns and choking hazards very seriously (I still do), but apart from that I found that a lot of foods were delayed for seemingly no reason, apart from saying that babies usually didn’t like them. Well, let’s let him decide if he likes it or not, shall we? My feeling was that this experience was supposed to be positive and fun, not unnecessarily complicated and wary. I might have just been lucky, but I still think that this attitude contributed to my son being the complete opposite of the proverbial “picky-eater”. Even when he was very little, I made him taste luscious sweet cherries, mango and papaya, all kinds of melons, juicy red grapefruits, fresh leeks, eggplants… And he couldn’t get enough.
He now eats almost anything and everything, sometimes as much as me, and I’m so glad. This is a child who shouts “Encore! Encore! (More!)” over broccoli, and who seems to genuinely think Asian stir-fried vegetables are delicious. His eagerness for food is so unusual that I wonder if I will pay for it later, fearing that he’ll suddenly stop eating one day, or that the hypothetical second baby will be the “finicky-eater-from-hell.”
Although we don’t deny him potato chips once in a while, most of what we eat is healthy, and so I’m really not concerned about him developing bad habits or a weight problem. He takes after his dad, who stayed skinny until his metabolism caught up with him in his thirties, and has always been below the 50th percentile for weight. Being rather tall for his age, he could put a little meat on his bones and so the fact that he has such an appetite is actually a good thing.
Here’s a list of some atypical (for a thirteen month-old) foods he enjoys:
-Sautéed mushrooms, including wild and Asian mushrooms
-Baby bok choi and napa cabbage
-Anything broccoli basically
-Extra-garlic hummus on pita bread
-Garlic Naan bread
-Bhaji fried onions
-Any kind of curry dish
-Tortilla chips with hot salsa
-Chili con carne
-Tangy cole slaw
-French onion dip on crackers
-Crabmeat and roasted red pepper sandwiches
-Fish sandwiches with tartar sauce
-Bean and artichoke salad with grilled haloumi cheese
-Pad See Ew
-General Tao chicken
-Orange glazed beef
-A really spicy Peruvian dish my colleague taught me how to make but which name I can’t remember
-Pasta with lemon, asparagus and salmon (one of my signature dishes).
All parents at daycare tell me that they are jealous and wish their kid would eat like mine. Fine, but you can’t have it all. When they learn that he still doesn’t sleep through the night (and probably never will, if it hasn’t happened at this point), they’re not so sure they’d trade places with me after all!