This week, the folks at food52 have challenged members of the community to submit one “Recipe You Want To Be Remembered For.” This contest theme got me thinking, of course, being 20 weeks into this pregnancy, smack dab in the middle of building our little boy on the best food I can give him. I’ve thought a lot about what I’m eating now – not just what health and developmental benefits I hope to provide for our son through my diet, but what (if any) impact the foods I’m eating will have on his future likes and dislikes.
I probably spend even more time musing about what and how he’ll eat as he gets older. What will food mean to him? What will he look forward to eating, love above anything else, wrinkle his little nose at? Will he have my allergy to oranges and grapefruit, or share his father’s aversion to melon? What will he remember when he’s all grown up and he thinks of me and his dad and the meals we shared as a family?
I can’t tell you how many times over the last few months Mike and I have been sitting at the kitchen table and the conversation has turned to our son and food. We talk about how we can’t wait for Sproggy’s first taste of fresh spring peas, of raspberries picked from the vine, of a tiny tomato bursting with juice and still warm from the sun. About taking him to the farmers’ market and introducing him to the wonderful people who grow and produce so much of our food. About how best to express gratitude for what we eat and the work that went into making it. We talk of rituals, of holidays and gatherings, of our family traditions, of how they might change and evolve over time, and how this little one will be part of them.
I get a little giddy when I think of our son helping Mike bake bread or make pizza, rolling out dough with chubby little hands, flour speckling his clothes. Every time I make tortillas from scratch – a skill I’m still learning – I think about doing so with him at my side, about the smell of toasty corn rising from a hot griddle, and how that scent transports me immediately to my grandmother’s kitchen. I wonder if that aroma, or others, will trigger such great memories for him someday.
We want him to know where and how things grow, to meet chickens and pigs and cows and sheep, to be accustomed to living in a home in which canning jars line the shelves, full of delicious things we’ve grown, picked, or put up ourselves.
But back to the original question – is there a particular dish or meal I that want our little boy to remember above all others? Meatballs, migas, macaroni and cheese, soft scrambled eggs, a lobster roll on a toasted bun, homemade pickles, the family rice and beans, or a crispy chicken cutlet? I can’t possibly choose one thing.
I want to share all sorts of food experiences with him, whether it involves meals we’ve cooked at home, or just sitting with him while we share one perfect cheese, a tin of great sardines with Triscuits and mustard, a juicy ripe peach, cold briny oysters, or a hot dog in the park. I look forward to sitting back and watching him figure out food and flavors, learn his likes and dislikes. I look forward to how he’ll inspire and influence me in the kitchen, and maybe someday, when he’s all grown up and I’m an old woman, he’ll ask me to make him his most favorite thing ever, and I will happily oblige.
But we’ve got a whole lot of eating to do before then, and I look forward to savoring every moment.