Spruced up mushrooms, coming soon to a table near you.
I love being an auntie. I’ve got two nephews and another gestating womb side. The stamina, patience, and courage it takes to be a parent I likely will never know, but I am feeling grateful to stand in awe and support of my sisters’ journeys.
My youngest sister Chelsea gave birth last August to a creature resembling a hungry caterpillar, very serious about eating (and growing). He’s now looking like a tiny human with an infectious smile, penchant for jubilant screeching, and robust appetite, which I had the great fortune of experiencing in person for the first time two weeks ago.
He’s in a very special stage between 4 months and walking (not there yet), where he’s inclined to stuff anything within reach in his mouth. This moment, as I’ve learned from books, is a critical window to expose new people to as many flavors as possible and an especially important moment to initiate them into food culture (Greene, 2009). Once they start bi-pedaling around, the culinary adventure instinct temporarily shuts down, perhaps a protective mechanism as their toddling can easily put them out of a guardian's reach (Greene, 2009). When seized, this is an incredible opportunity to shape a person’s preferences and openness to new foods for their lifetime (Greene, 2009).
Chelsea took a poll on which foods family members wanted Cy to have as a first taste. I pushed liver, as it’s a flavor I regrettably never encountered till adulthood so it rarely makes me swoon (unless doctored with loads of butter and cream). Given it’s one of the most inexpensive, incredibly nutritious foods available, I endorsed it. Much to my amazement, Chelsea complied and Cy devoured it with glee. Here’s the video:
One of my favorite moments hanging out with Cy was patrolling the fenced backyard behind Chelsea’s place with him on my hip. Every single plant we visited he grabbed at, urgently wanting to know more via his mouth.
I remember reading a puppy training book once that described a puppy’s tendency to explore the world with their spikey teeth, a desire “to penetrate the essence.” I suppose I can relate to both puppies and babies.
I made sure to show him only edibles and we slowly took a tour of flavor and texture tasting dry, spicy bee balm, mucilaginous violet, bitter dandelion, sweet basil, and lastly, citrusy spruce tips. The towering spruce tree in the corner of their yard was flush with neon green tips. It felt especially meaningful to show Cy food is possible from plants of all statures.
Once back home my sister sent me the below video. I’m so proud; with a belly full of liver and spruce tips, he’ll be unstoppable.
References Greene, A. (2009). Feeding Baby Green: The Earth Friendly Program for Healthy, Safe Nutrition During Pregnancy, Childhood, and Beyond. John Wiley & Sons.
Carly lives and eats from a hilltop in Cummington, Massachsuetts and part time in Schenectady, NY.