Saturday, February 9, 2008

Feeding Baby

This blog is mostly about the food I make for Belle (with some smaller portion about the food I eat when I am away from her.) But this afternoon, when she was running out of the room, stolen dosas clutched in each chubby fist, I started to think more about cooking for one’s child. When I was a child, my mother often cooked the food I loved, but every once in a while she would make things that she loved. It is my guess that she made them in hopes that one evening I too would say, “broiled eggplant and asofoetida, YUM.” Belle is still in the honeymoon period of food tasting and I want to encourage her to eat and taste everything, if only so that I don’t have to cook buttered noodles for life.

A friend recently asked me if we are raising Belle according to any particular child-rearing philosophy. We are raising her with the best of our childhoods. For me, it was food. We discussed food (and ate) constantly. My father used to call me in college just to make sure I had eaten. When we think about family vacations, I never want to go to a beach; I want to go to a land of restaurants. For my husband, food was not central. But, the family meal was. Everyone ate dinner together and everyone ate the same thing.

And, that is what we do. No separate food for Belle. We eat things that everyone can eat. 2/3 of the time, we make the tried and true with meat-less protein most nights and poultry every once in a while. But, then we make new things and see how they go. Chicken soup is fine apparently if it tastes of coconut and has no meat in it. And, then for snack time, I cycle through the most successful items--dosas, bread with almond butter, veg rice.

But, that doesn’t really say what is happening when I cook for her and eat with her. There is the fun of introducing your baby to the world—the slurping of long noodles, the eating with one’s own spoon, the family room picnics. Today, she really wanted to eat her snack off a plastic platter she had found in a drawer. So we sat down to wait for the dosa to cool. She reached out tentatively, and looked at me as if to say, still hot. And then she reached out again to grab a small bite. After an approving smack of the lips, she grabbed her snack and ran. It was apparently so good she wasn’t going to share.

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