We began cooking the world with Afghanistan, when my daughter was 7-months old. We completed the final country, Zimbabwe, when she was 4 1/2. Now she’s 6 1/2 and we continue to try new foods weekly. Below is a unique look into my daughter’s perspective about our Global Table Adventure – as I like to imagine it. This first installment is her perspective in the first six months of the adventure, from 7-13 months old.
Who says you need teeth to eat the world?
I’m only seven months old but mom tells me we’re going to eat a meal from every country in the world. That’s more than 195 countries! It’s hard to imagine – especially since I just ate my first foods last month and I don’t have any teeth.
Mama talked to my pediatrician (as you should before giving your baby any new foods) and learned all about Baby Led Weaning. Turns out I’m not destined to months of jarred baby food! Instead, I can gum my way through softer bits of age-appropriate whole foods. And since babies all over the world eat a variety of flavors – no reason for my food to be bland. Since Mama is starting with Afghanistan, my first meal will be Kabeli Palau – Mama says I can gum some soft bits of chicken!
If you can’t stand the heat, your mom can help.
If grownups want to eat spicy food they can have ready a glass of milk, some yogurt, or a slice of bread – all of which help block the burning effects of capsicum. But what about for a baby? Well, I’m 11-months old and Mama just found out that, in Bhutan, moms give their babies spicy food without much worry. This is a country that cooks and serves chili peppers as a dish, just like my mom might serve up steamed carrots! Imagine eating an entire bowl of hot chili peppers!
The key, she learned, was that moms in Bhutan share with their babies… perhaps not a bowl of chili peppers, but any number of mild ingredients cooked in a spicy sauce. They’ll wipe off the sauce in their own mouth for baby. Inevitably, some of the sauce’s heat and flavor sticks around – but is generally much milder. Over time, they wipe off less and less sauce. Eventually, babies work up to eating the bowls of cooked spicy chilies. Mama took it easy with me this time but says she’s going to use this method as I grow bigger!
Parents don’t know it all!
So Mama and Papa were all gung-ho about cooking the world, but last night they made a rice dish with fermented locust beans, spinach, and anchovies called Babenda from Burkina Faso. I’m just 13-months old but I ate loads more than they did. It was fishy, tasted like blue cheese and was loaded with greens – I’d totally eat it again! I guess older people become more set in their ways when it comes to trying bold flavors??? My pediatrician says babies are completely open-minded – we’ll try anything! I guess I’m a good influence on them!
For more videos of little Ava trying food from around the world, go to our YouTube Channel (keep in mind Ava gets younger the further back in the feed you go)! Enjoy – and happy cooking!