I never say that I am a remarkable parent (I do, sometimes), but I also never highlight the mistakes I have made as a mother. For example, I could have tried harder to introduce more vegetables into Jahan's diet early on. With family members who don't feel full if they don't eat meat, it isn't often that I cook vegetables. It is a rare day in our household when the dinner menu is entirely vegetarian. Moreover, I was a working mother. Yes, yes, I read all the books that said "give your baby everything," but I discovered that she liked rice and chicken, so I got into a rut. I am frequently in a food rut myself. And to be honest, I didn't discover vegetables until I started going to college here in America. As a child, I remember my youngest sister complained one day upon finding lentils for dinner, "It seems I have forgotten what chicken even looks like." Drama, I am afraid, runs in the family.
It is time to confess something - when I say that my baby eats everything, what I really mean is that she eats everything as long as it consists of meat and/or grains and/or select fruits and/or desserts. Yep, no vegetables (unless you count potato). We have made progress - a few days ago, she smelled a piece of broccoli before throwing it away. That is an improvement from holding it and tossing it straight away.
In an attempt to get her more interested in different foods, her auntie and I are inducting her into the kitchen. Jahan's aunt programs her cooking excursions in a more controlled manner, namely she chops vegetables for an omelet every weekend, and Jahan adds them to the egg. She then adds spices that her aunt measures out for her and mixes everything together. Tadah! Omelet! I have a slightly different method. It's no secret that I love to bake. My best friend and Goll Gappay's official photographer, Rebecca, gave me this amazing cookbook on my birthday that I had been wanting for a very, very long time, The Cake Bible. I have only tried two recipes from it, and they are both divine! The second recipe, chocolate bread, has become a household favorite. Jahan particularly loves it. So, what I do is this: I bake, and I give Jahan some steel mixing bowls with a cup of lentils or beans in them. She takes either a steel spoon or a wooden spatula and pretends to cook while I get all the ingredients ready for the bread. It's a quiet time of concentration and bonding, each of us absorbed in our tasks, mine more real than hers. It almost always gets more noisy in the end. Jahan scatters the contents of her bowls on the floor and then pretends to clean the mess with her toy broom (which is surprisingly effective, I often sweep the floor with it).
At the very least, I hope that Jahan will acquire a love for cooking as we do more together in the kitchen. Gradually, maybe she will start to measure out ingredients for me. Perhaps we will bake cupcakes together one day, or bake a cake. At best, we will transition into making salads and grilling vegetables and she will expand the boundaries of her palette. At least I hope so.
Photos by Rebecca McCue