Friday, May 14, 2010

Comfort Food

One of the very first things a mother worries about is food.

From how long to breastfeed to when to start solids to juice or no juice to peanut allergies to scheduling family meal time -- food plays a primary part of the mothering role.

Food is a wonderful thing.

Perfectly salted, warm edemame.

Deep fried snickers.

Liver pate on toast points.

I have no patience for food snobs.

A palate should sample, compare, reject and crave. Your palate should drive your food appreciation. You should not dictate what your palate will or won't like. This is the theory upon which I hope to approach food with Baby C.

As a mother of a daughter, I am well aware of the potential issues that may revolve around food as she enters the years of body awareness / obsession. I can only hope that I instill in her the same love for and appreciation of food that my mother instilled in me.

My mother was a gourmand before her time and still is - and I was blessed to sample the riches.

In my toddler years my mother was a SAHM and we started every day settling in to breakfast - me with my 3 scrambled eggs. Every day.

Dinner time was a nothing to it (!!!) feast of cheese souffle or chicken a la king with homemade pastry or prime rib and yorkshire pudding or brunswick stew.

The neatest thing about my mom is that she appreciates food at all levels of the spectrum. Many a weekend morning we would careen out of the house in our bathrobes to the Hardee's drive thru for sausage biscuits before the menu switched to lunch.

Dinner was ALWAYS sit down as a family. Always.

Even after the divorce and she was working her tuckus off we had a full dinner, table set, conversation rolling. Comfort food defined.

And on those nights when time was tight and her multi-tasking was stretched to its limit we still sat down to dinner. Like the time during tax season when we hit the local High's for banana splits for dinner -- we SAT down in the High's to eat them as a family and discuss our day before rushing off to the accountant.


I love my mom.

The other food lesson I have learned from my mom is that there is no proper food for a certain age. We ate what was served us and it was what my parents were eating and we did not leave the table until a good effort was made to eat it.

She did not obssess over whether, say, by introducing cheese grits before the baked potato it would decrease the likelihood that I would settle for the potato after enjoying the gooey grits. It was not an option - if the potato was on the table, the potato was it, take it or leave it. She was not alarmed that I downed her divinity candy like a child on crack because, I attacked the nightly waldorf side salad with the same vigor.

Mom was no food tyrant. We were not guilted into submission by tales of starving children. Rather it was her attitude toward food that drew us in. She just plain loves food. It is evident in the ease with which she moves in the kitchen, the pride in the presentation of a dish and her fascination with foods of different cultures.

For my mom, whether making a grilled cheese or baking sally lunn bread, food is creativity and comfort and caring. It is not a puzzle of creating the “proper” food combination to fuel the future Secretary of State. (Although…)

I was reminded of this a few weeks ago. At the store Baby C spotted a set of juice boxes. At this point we have not introduced juice to Baby C's food regimen. But lo and behold Baby C points to the juice box and says clear as day, "Juice!".

Well hell.

I started to fluff and flutter that she had obviously had juice somewhere. I was a possessed woman. No juice! No juice!!

Then my mom put it all in perspective.

"It is juice. Wait until she eats an entire bottle of Scooby vitamins in one sitting (that would be me) or actively requests a hit of the kiddy codeine (me again). By the way, do you think she would like some of my crab dip if I made it?"

We had not tested shellfish yet. Sigh.

Clearly, I need to take a few more pointers from mom. I need to roll with it and let Baby C join me as a non-discriminating admirer of food, glorious food!!

(Except restaurant buffets. They skeeze me out.)

For years to come I will make Baby C my mom’s recipes and hope that along the way I teach her manners, how to say grace, the right utensils to eat and cook with, to love family mealtime…to appreciate food.

In all of its many fabulous forms.

1 comment:

  1. I completely relate. My mom was also way ahead of her time with respect to healthy eating, an AMAZING cook and not overly obsessive about me having too much of any particular kind of food. And she loved sugar cookies and treats and we got plenty of them, but also lots of the green stuff too. I really feel grateful to her for it. I love all kinds of foods and have never had the food issues that so many women deal with (ok, maybe I ought to have a bit more!). Anyhow, at first I was a bit freakish about sugar and all that with Estela, but now we let her have the occasional ice cream (REAL ice cream), diluted juice and etc. I am the reason she such a wonderful eater all around is because we have not made these things "forbidden fruit," though I must admit to being a bit embarassed when she pretends to feed her baby dolls and we ask her what the baby is eating, she always says "ice cream." Oh, and Estela is very into our mealtime rituals, insisting on a cloth napkin for her lap, a mealtime verse and candles! Ha!