It makes the hard work of being a parent worthwhile and utterly thrilling when I see the shine of delight on my daughter’s face when she eats something she enjoys.
Olive is 21 months old and she likes saying “hmmm” when she eats. At six months, she was traditionally weaned on Vietnamese rice porridge, then we introduced fruit, vegetables, meat and fish to her bowl. She now has some firm favourites: avocado – spooned out of the shell, tenderstem broccoli, grilled asparagus, fragrant chicken pho … Every day, I fear she will change her mind and refuse her greens.
Her first introduction to “cooking” was sitting on the kitchen counter, picking and smelling herbs while I prepped food – like the hardy garden mint that tickled her enchanted nose and made her giggle.
Over the summer, she has been greeting our multiplying herb pots in the garden. With song and conversation, she waters the perfumed lavender tree and bashes the rosemary – because hitting it makes the smell linger in the air. Olive points her tiny fingers at the unripened green blueberries and says: “Wait.” She bumbles around with the big green watering can, avoiding the loitering spiders and buzzing bees; she picks strawberries and raspberries with her daddy then excitedly delivers them to me, like prizes, one by one. Later, we eat them with yoghurt and honey.
Olive loves texture, shapes, and hints of colour, like yellow buttons of sweetcorn, green balls of peas, ruby gems of pomegranate. Giving her the chance to touch and eat the things she finds interesting helps me learn what she likes. She loves slurping noodles or making a satisfying quenched sound after a big drink of water. She adores eating with her parents, sitting on a grown-up chair around the table and feeding the dog under it.
Please visit The Guardian here for toddler friendly recipes for all the family to enjoy too