This week’s moment was a little bit of a spoiler.
Because as Tuesday became Wednesday, a flick of the calendar took our little Elma into the heady realms of “old enough for food”. It seems a very arbitrary milestone to do it entirely on date, unless of course magic health visitor fairies came to visit in the wee small hours of Wednesday morning and sprinkled her with digestive pixie dust … actually that could explain both the small scrabbling noise that I heard on the roof (attributed at the time to squirrels) and the fact that she uncharacteristically woke up at 3.30am for a little milky top up; maybe I’m on to something.
But we digress. In the absence of fairy intervention we went back to the tried and tested parental instinct method and decided that as she can sit up with a little help, can pick things up and put them in her mouth, has taken to filching any food left within her reach (bye bye Mama’s green beans), and has spent at least the last two weeks sat at the dinner table giving us a bit of the “where’s mine?!” stink eye, she was ready to begin her new adventure.
And as it happened, H had to work late on Tuesday, and had a training session on Wednesday, and we wanted our first full family meal to be special, and relaxed; not filled with a rushing father and a grumpy toddler, so we had it on Monday; pork T-bones marinated in honey, lemon, olive oil and garlic with new potatoes, carrots and broccoli for the over-ones and carrot and broccoli sticks and a little peach fromage frais for Elma.
If I thought she was excited about swimming we hadn’t seen anything yet, you could see the cogs whirring; “at last, they’re letting me try some!”. She was quivering with excitement the whole time, and whilst as family photographer it might have been nice if she’d stayed still just for a moment, as her Mama I couldn’t care less, as sticks of carrot were flailed around, and broccoli forests started to crop up on my floor once again.
As with her big sister, the plan is to let Elma lead the way; we’re still nursing and that’s where her main nutrition will continue to come from as she explores all these new tastes and textures, and doubtless smears most of them over herself, her chair, her sister and the floor before almost accidentally managing to eat some.
And so my little one, what would I wish for you now as we stand on the brink of a new chapter of babyhood?
Well this is food. It’s yummy. I think you’re going to like it. I hope that you always find food to be a joy, take pleasure in cooking and in eating (although you’re allowed to gripe about the washing up, especially if Daddy forgets to put the porridge pan in to soak in the morning).
So far you’ve tried carrots, broccoli, courgette, bananas, sweet potato and fromage frais (as well as the green beans and cucumber purloined from my plate last week). You loved using your gums to suck the tender green flesh from the courgette rind, but the baked sweet potato sticks were the biggest hit; when you’d chewed and dropped all of yours you started patting the table, scrabbling around for another one. Don’t tell your sister but I pinched one off her plate to give to you; my reward was your beaming orange smile and a splodgy handprint on my arm.
Some things are wonderful to eat and full of things that make us healthy and strong; eat lots of those; some things are equally wonderful, but perhaps not as healthy; enjoy them, just not so often; and some things don’t taste that great and don’t do much for you; I wouldn’t bother with those, although your father swears that there’s a spot that only Pickled Onion Monster Munch can hit. Your beloved Grannie used to say “everything in moderation”, and it’s a pretty good mantra, you won’t come too unstuck with that one.
I hope that you learn to love all sorts of different food, and that your curiosity about the world will open you up to a taste of thing that you haven’t tried before, and I’ll certainly be encouraging you along the way.
And finally, just for reference, because it’s going to be a little while before I put any of this in front of you, please remember that the food of your people is clotted cream then jam on the scone, not the other way around. Don’t let your aunt lead you astray; your uncle is Cornish and he converted her to his strange outlandish ways.
Now then, what would you like for supper?
Love, Mama xxx