Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I'll Have What She's Having

Now I'm sure that you are familiar with the infamous scene from When Harry Met Sally.  Meg Ryan is sitting across from Billy Crystal at Katz's delicatessen, a temple to smoked meats and sausage on New York's Lower East Side.  The subject of the conversation is of course sex, and whether women "fake it."  And then Meg Ryan in her adorable, feathered blond hair unleashes herself, writhing in ecstasy, moaning and sharing her extravagant orgasm with the entire restaurant and leaving a sheepish Billy Crystal embarrassed.  What's most memorable is of course, the older woman sitting near the couple, having heard the entire performance,  tells the waiter emphatically, "I'll have what she's having."

I'm not saying that my homemade baby food is orgasmic, but I will tell you that it's pretty damn good.  That's why Bean's new phase of not eating what I put in front of her is all the more disheartening.  Recently, Bean has demonstrated a clear preference for the canned baby food variety.  She is suddenly content having whatever everybody else is having.  I'm not dismissing strained peas and carrots, but I made a decision when I birthed Bean that I would make her baby food.  I should be honest here and say that I have a culinary background, working in top New York City restaurants for the past six years; first as a line cook and later as a pastry sous chef.  So I know my way around a kitchen.  On more than one occasion, I've eaten the uneaten portion of Bean's food.  It's seriously that good!

I relished feeding Bean solids from the start.  Our local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) provided us with a bounty of local, organic fruits and vegetables from the Hudson Valley.  Bean devoured whatever I put in front of her; from apples and pears to butternut squash and daikon radish.  The more she ate, the more daring I became as her chef.  If I made parsnip rutabaga soup for myself, I'd leave some separate and unseasoned and give it to Bean.  Bean devoured it, and I'd mentally add parsnip and rutabaga to the growing list of foods that Bean ate and liked.  Bean's diet gradually grew to include the foods that my husband and I were eating like Camembert cheese, braised meats, lentils and gnocchi.

But suddenly, my baby gourmet is no longer interested in my food, morphing into Miss Independence.  All my organic, homemade purees barely interest her.  In fact, she looks at the food I make with downright disdain.  Her mouth clamps down tight, puckering down into a frown and then finally she shakes her head "No," and if I still don't get the message, she swipes her hand at my dangling spoon.  I made all her favorites from scratch: apples, pears, butternut squash.  Nope.  She wants nothing to do with it.  She only wants food that she can pick up with her own hands and shovel into her mouth.  Clearly, she is trying to master this new skill, and she is thrilled with herself when she does pick up a morsel of food and carefully, sometimes with her whole hand, gets the morsel of food into her mouth.

I can deal with cutting bite size bits of food and steaming them until soft so she can eat it, but what I can't deal with is that as picky as Bean is at the moment, she has no issue eating prepackaged baby food.  I must confess here.  I started buying baby food prunes because, well, what other reason do people seek prunes?  I started buying Gerber prunes and then Earth's Best and then I found Plum Organics, a terrific company, if only for the vessel in which it is stored.  In a word, it's genius.  The food comes in a pouch and it has screw top that attaches to a small spoon.  You don't have to fuss with a bowl or finding a BPA free container, because this is all-in-one.  Again, genius!

Because I was so thrilled with the company I bought other flavors for back-up purposes for the rare occasions when I couldn't make food.  Bean loved the prunes and any other Plum Organics flavor I introduced to her.  Even now, when she is stubborn, sitting there with her mouth shut tight into a line, her mouth opens up immediately when sees that pouch.  She has no interest in the food I make now, just those damn pouches!  Bean is quite content eating what every other baby in the free world is eating.  I thought she was going be my gourmet baby!  I pictured her in long flowing dresses with a flower in her hair, gushing about all the delicious food her mom made her as a child and how that food and community shaped her into a virtuous, creative, dynamic individual.  Now I see her eating a happy meal or worse yet, buying DiGiourno frozen pizza.  Will she also desire those dreaded chicken nuggets?  Is canned baby food a slippery slope from which there is no return?

I don't think canned baby food is the marijuana gateway drug from which all poor food choices follow.  Bean is just in a stage, a stage where she is more than content having what everybody else is having.  I just hope that the "I want foie gras"stage is next.

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