My Baby is a Foodie

[Baby Watch: Day 357]

My Baby is a Foodie

My son is half Italian. It is therefore advisable for his future well-being that he learns to love food and eating, otherwise he will be shunned by the entirety of his mother’s side of the family, especially Cousin Hank, who is planning an elaborate vacation to Italy with the lone goal of ingesting as many hand-crafted carbohydrates as humanely possible. (Paraphrasing his epic Christmas Day rant: “Once I get there I ain’t leaving the dinner table. I can look at pictures of famous buildings any time, but I can only get an authentic Italian person cooking fresh Italian food when I’m in Italy. You can go do touristy stuff all you want; I’ll be eating cheese.”)

Following her family’s lead, Kristen has developed a love of food that can loosely be described as voraciously ambitious. Every year for her birthday she asks that I, instead of buying her gifts, just spend the money on food instead. Most people go out to dinner to celebrate their loved ones’ birthdays. We go out like ten times. This year I bought her slippers in addition to a lovely night out. She sadly donned the slippers and said she wished they were porterhouse steaks. (Baby Oliver has taken note of this, and is constantly gnawing on said slippers.)

I love to eat too, but my love is more in the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest category. I have dreams of having a chili/cheese dispenser built directly into the wall of my kitchen. My arteries will slowly congeal, and I’ll receive a form letter from the company that holds my life insurance policy informing me that “intentional chili/cheese related heart attacks” may prevent Kristen from receiving any financial payout in the inevitable event of my passing. Basically, if it’s tasty and able to be consumed at a hefty clip, I’m up for it. Just pipe the mashed potatoes into my mouth from an icing bag, and I’ll be happy.

Together, we make up a foodie family who values high quality food in abundance. For our wedding reception, we decided to just pick the foods we like most, regardless of appropriateness of the season. This resulted in mass quantities of lasagna and mashed potatoes being served outside, on a farm, on a balmy June afternoon. Because YOLO. (That’s still a thing, right?) Needless to say, our hopes were very high that Baby Oliver would develop a comparable affinity for food.

Fortunately, the stars have aligned and, as Oliver has begun eating actual food, it has become evident that he shares our edible obsession. This is both good news and bad news.  It is good news because Kristen’s side of the family does not have to have him snuffed out as an un-Italian traitor. (I’ll pause while Cousin Hank breathes a sigh of relief and grabs a celebratory fistful of cheese.) It is bad news because he has very quickly developed the world’s most discerning palate.

Sure, he’ll suck it up and eat bites of normal food like Cheerios or grapes. But his marked preference for elaborate cuisine is something that I have never before seen in a child. Half the food he craves I personally never tried until I was at least out of college. Some of it I never even heard of until recently, and I’m 35. Here is an incomplete, but entirely true list of just some of Oliver’s new favorite foods:

Cioppino – Absolutely no joke, this was the first thing he ever ate that wasn’t baby food. Is this Michael Corleone’s baby? How many people can say that their first food was cioppino (other than Mario Batali’s kids and straight-up mobsters)? We may as well hire Joe Pesci to be his etiquette coach.

Artisan Pickles – We’re totally raising a jerk. It couldn’t be a regular pickle? We had to go straight to artisan pickles?!? Does my son have ANY chance of making it through public school??? “Umm, excuse me, underpaid lunch lady . . . where are your artisan pickles?”

Chicken Piccata w/ Capers and Quinoa – Kristen, in her most joyous tone, “A baby who likes capers?!? That’s crazy to me.” I should mention, chicken piccata is Kristen’s favorite food and was also served at our wedding reception. So, the fact that Oliver also loves it is likely to be the proudest moment in her entire life. It’s all downhill from here.

Huevos Rancheros – I should mention, one of my resolutions since Oliver was born has been to learn Spanish. Between the constant mini-lessons en Español on my phone and my seemingly perpetual ingestion of this Mexican breakfast (and the endless amounts of guacamole we consume as a family), I’m fairly sure he thinks that he’s being raised as a conquistador.

Black Bean Hummus – He grabbed a fistful and smeared it through his hair (a sign of the utmost respect).

Grits – “I think Oliver tried grits before I ever did,” I said moments before trying grits for the first time. Our reaction was identical, and both of our shirts proudly displayed rejected, half-chewed grit stains as proof.

Eggs Benedict and Cheese Blintzes – These were served together on a breakfast buffet. “Would you like me to bring the baby a vanilla yogurt?” the naive waiter asked just before Oliver downed an entire plate of blintzes.

Coq au vin – Typically prepared with red wine, I did not specifically determine the ingredients of this particular dish, so I’m not sure if I was feeding my child alcohol or not. I did, however, receive a glaring disapproval from my wife. (I’m assuming it’s because she prefers white wine.)

Spicy Pork Meatball Sliders (with 3 Different Kinds of Sauces: Spinach Almond Pesto, Pork Bolognese, and Arrabbiata) – Consumed in the same sitting, they caused Oliver’s poo to smell so bad the next day that we nicknamed him “Stink” – a name that will likely stick until his middle school counselor awkwardly asks us to change it so the teasing will abate.

Of course, developing a taste for all this fancy food poses a problem for me. Either I’ll have to make painstakingly elaborate dinners every night for the rest of my child’s life, I’ll have to drop a small fortune on some gourmet food delivery service, or I’ll have to face the not-to-be-sneezed-at wrath of General Gourmet himself (his meteoric rise to the rank of general has been mostly undeserved). Considering the fact that, when he doesn’t like the taste of something, he’s taken to throwing food on the ground, and considering the fact that my voice is going to go hoarse from all of the stern “NO”s, I’d have to yell . . . I’m guessing there’s an above average chance that I’ll be learning the ins and outs of homemade blintzes in the very near future.

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UPDATE:

Upon reading this post, the following response was received from Cousin Hank:

“Please note: Cousin Hank is currently eating his way through Argentina and Uruguay and loving it. More cheese please!”

It was accompanied by this picture, which made both my and Baby Oliver’s mouth water:

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