From Too Many Chefs -

July 10, 2005
It's All About The Fruit

P7070034.jpgMany years ago when I was even shorter than I am now, I had a certain reputation. If there was good food going anywhere in our house, I was there. Before the scent of baking cookies could hit the door I was in the kitchen. One of my older sister's wittier boyfriends nicknamed me "Meg the Mooch". Ha ha. Well, my mom wasn't an enthusiastic cook and it was the 70s, a time when frozen dinners in the microwaver were a novelty and Jello ruled. When my teenaged sister made cookies or a dinner for her boyfriend I was smart enough to know it was going to be better than the frozen dinner that awaited me.

But more than that, I was a complete fruit-aholic. My older brother used to buy his own fruit and carefully warn the rest of us not to touch it on pain of certain death. Well, my mom had (has) a gift for picking out the unripe, the bruised, the overripe in the fruit world. And my brother was willing to shell out for fruit in good condition that wasn't on sale. No question an 8 year old me was going to go for the good cherries.

So my brother started storing his fruit at our grandmother's and biking two miles to her house when he wanted some. The dirty rat.

All of this is to illustrate two points: I was what the French call a gourmand from a very tender age and I've always been a fanatic about fruit. I never met a fruit I didn't like. (Actually that's not entirely true: I tried a kumquat once and didn't like it but I suspect it wasn't ripe...)

Anyway, that is the background. Fastforward to a couple weekends ago when the boys and I were in the UK visiting my stepdaughter, Marianne. I'm all excited because the Critic has come up with an elegant solution to the How Do You Travel With Baby Food When You Are Making It All From Scratch dilemma: bring a banana or two and try him out on his first fruit. No need to refrigerate, only tools needed are a bowl, a fork and his spoon. Perfect!

First attempt: screwed up face, whimper. Come on, baby, it's GOOD. Everybody loves bananas! Ten minutes and a scant quarter of a banana later, I give up and make him a bottle.

Second attempt: he gets a whiff of the banana as it goes towards his face and clamps his mouth shut. Only by dint of prolonged smiling and singing can I get him to smile back, thus opening his mouth so I can shove some banana in. From that point on it's easy to get his mouth open as he shouts his displeasure.

I'm seriously shaken by this. A kid of mine not liking bananas? How could any child of mine not like a fruit? I look at the Critic and his daughter. They shrug their shoulders and say "Well, we don't like bananas either!" (What kind of alien family have I married into? Help, is it too late to get out??)

For the next two days, the baby initially refuses to open his mouth to any food I put near him; I have to smear a little on his lips so that he can taste it and see that it's not the Dreaded Banana. (All the time I am singing "YES, we have no bananas...we have no bananas today, today...")

So I thought it was a fluke. And this week I made him some lovely home made applesauce. Everybody loves apples, right? Wrong.

I'm seriously thinking of getting a blood test to make sure there wasn't a mix up at the hospital.

Posted by Meg in Sussex at July 10, 2005 10:40 AM | TrackBack

very cute!

Posted by Alisa on July 10, 2005 at 11:41 AM

Hey Meg,

Sounds as though you were lucky to have the TV dinners. My mother was in the whole wheat flour in everything faze. Waffles, cakes and even my beloved choco chippy cookie. Thank goodness it only lasted 5 or 6 years ...

Posted by Dr. Biggles on July 10, 2005 at 11:08 PM

Ouch. TV dinners and hamburgers every night in the summer start to sound good in comparison, it's true! And I shouldn't be too hard on my mom: when I was really little she was working full time, attending college full time and single-handedly raising three kids. Okay, with massive help from her family, but still!

Posted by Meg in Paris on July 11, 2005 at 3:39 AM

Meg, I think you did get an unripe kumquat! If you can, vist our side of the globe during the chinese new year -- kumquats are in season then and booyyyyyy... they're the reason why I enjoy the New Year so much, next to our "red packets" -- envelopes with money stuffed inside for children and unmarried adults.

Posted by peebrain on July 11, 2005 at 9:18 PM

Thanks for the tip - I'll certainly look out for them if I ever get the chance. It was long ago in the pre-Internet Dark Ages, so I didn't have any place to research how to eat them or when they are in season. Now I'll know better!

Posted by Meg in Paris on July 12, 2005 at 6:49 AM

We weren't lucky enough to have relatives who lived close so that my brother could store the good fruit there. My brother still does eat all the nectarines and peaches on the first day until he gets sick so that other people do not eat them. He does the same with oranges. He'll get so sick from eating seven of them by the afternoon and still manage to laugh about it. I think he laughed about it because he'd feel like he won the game of eating all the good fruit.

Posted by Kristina on July 13, 2005 at 1:37 PM