There is something about being a parent that offers the world up anew through the eyes of your child. For eleven months now, John and I have had the incredible fortune--and unfathomable undoing--of walking through our days infused with the perspective of M. She notices so many things we take for granted--the splattering of water hitting a puddle from the gutter, the tiny flowers in our grapefruit tree, that fingers bend and when they do we can use our hands in different ways.
Lately, though, as M transitions out of baby food and into the realm of food the rest of us enjoy, I find myself marveling at tastes and textures in their simplest forms. Eggs are slippery and elusive in a mouth without teeth; blackberries offer a juicy burst before a bit of chewiness emerges; plain tofu is actually delicious. In a food world without salt, I find myself tasting in a way I can't recall as I nibble on M's meals or eat her leftovers and rejects. Cinnamon is a powerful spice and coconut is surprisingly creamy. Potatoes are warm and wonderful mush. And apple juice? Nothing beats it in its purest form.
M eats for sustenance and M eats to learn. She eats what she wants and discards the rest, stopping when she's full even if she loves what she's in the middle of eating. She pokes and prods at the food in front of her, trying to figure it out. She remembers, too--noting that potato cubes are not the same as banana cubes even if they're sharing a spot on the table before her. Her relationship with food, while mediated by what we offer her, remains so uninhibited. It is a lesson on eating to watch her, a lesson in noticing what goes in my mouth, in considering it, on eating to tend to my needs. As she learns, so do I.
Do any of you parental types know what I'm talking about? Have you ever had one of those moments with food where you become conscious of your relationship with it and of different possibilities? Kids aren't the only way to these considerations, i know. M has just been my personal invitation.
Anyway, in honor of M, I share a recipe that's entered the weekly rotation in our house. Applesauce is such a simple thing to make and so delicious, too. Hot off the stove with a dash of cinnamon is my personal favorite way to eat it.
makes roughly 6 cups
15 apples (I'd recommend Granny Smith, but this week I'm trying Gala in hopes of making it a little less tart for M)
apple juice or water
Peel and core your apples, slicing them into similarly sized pieces. Toss in a pot. Add liquid to coat the bottom (this prevents burning). Cut a piece of wax paper and press down over the apples. Cook over low heat, stirring periodically, until your desired texture is reached. Add cinnamon to taste (if you'd like). Devour! Oh--and if you want your applesauce to be a little extra awesome, stir in a little bit of maple syrup. So so good.