In Case You Were Wondering …

30 09 2008

… Masher and his poop are getting along a whole lot better these days.  For the last week or so, the poop fairy has paid a visit nearly every day, sometimes even twice!  Although it may cost me more in wipes in the long run, it definitely makes me feel much better to know that things are moving along, so to speak. 

The frequency of the movements definitely seems to have something to do with the amount that Masher is eating.  He’s on three meals a day at this point (8 months old a week ago!), along with nursing four to five times a day.  I’ve generally been feeding him some combination of cereal and fruit (usually applesauce or pureed prunes) in the morning; a veggie cube or two for lunch, often accompanied by some pear or grapes in the mesh feeder; and up to three veggie cubes in the evening, usually with a bit of cereal or some pureed chicken mixed in.  New veggie combo?  Green beans, asparagus, and spinach cubes … Very delicious.  Masher actually seems to generally prefer veggies to fruit, and when I taste the plain steamed and pureed veggies, I think I can see why.  They taste sweet, to my great surprise, and they’re a little bit more bland and less acidic than most fruit. 

As a child, I myself hated all things green, gagged at the sight of most vegetables, and could actually make myself sick when forced to eat them.  My childhood list of acceptable vegetables was short:  carrots (raw only), corn (except when the sound of my parents chewing it off the cob drove me nuts), and potatoes (white, not sweet … no way!).  I picked crunchy onions out of ground beef dishes, licked the peanut butter off the celery on my “ants on a log,” even turned up my nose at ketchup.  My poor mother finally focused her efforts on the carrot, and throughout my school years I had a small pile of carrot sticks with every meal except breakfast.  It only gave me a slight orangey hue …

So, how did I eventually end up a veg-lover?  I attribute the metamorphosis to three epiphanies, which I could dub Peer Pressure, Boredom, and Love.  The first epiphany took place at nerd camp (Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth summer program) in junior high.  Even at nerd camp, apparently, the urge to be skinny and beautiful was strong, and when my hallmates all opted for salads, I couldn’t help myself to a big plate of meatloaf and mashed potatoes.  And the salads weren’t bad.  As long as they consisted of no other vegetables besides lettuce.  Accompanied by a lot of blue cheese dressing, croutons, those Asian crunchy things, and bacon bits.  Yeah, pretty good!  And it was a step forward.                       

The next epiphany occurred in Paris where I spent my junior year of college in a small room of an international women’s dormitory where the temperature never rose above 57 degrees Fahrenheit regardless of how high I cranked the old gas heater.  I was always cold and suffered through the winter from a general ennui acquired from the reading of far too much Baudelaire.  Apart from the long walk to the arrondissement in which that day’s class could be found (and the pastry from the local patisserie), the highlight of my day was lunch, served in the dorm cafeteria.  Vegetables were featured prominently and smelled and looked oddly delicious, mainly due to the warm buttery steam rising from them.  I tried and realized I liked one after another after another …  Broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, cabbage, brussel sprouts …  With loads of butter, a touch of garlic, and cooked to a mushy texture, delicieux!

France changed my outlook on veggies dramatically, but I was still finicky about the way in which my vegetables were cooked and served.  I liked one type of vegetable at a time and really needed a lot of oil or butter to enjoy it.  And then came Love.  My college boyfriend—who eventually became my husband—loved to cook … one thing.  I called it “Bachelor Food.”  The recipe for Bachelor Food is as follows:  Throw every vegetable in the grocery store in an enormous pan with olive oil, add beans, serve hot with tortilla chips and salsa.  To me, it was an abomination.  Every vegetable, all in the same pan?  Some of them still crunchy?  No butter???  But, I loved him.  So, I loved Bachelor Food.  And, as I continued to eat Bachelor Food the nights he cooked it, I realized I wasn’t just telling him I loved it any longer; I really did love it.

I think habituation really is key to developing a taste for certain foods, although peer pressure, boredom, and love can obviously also be contributing factors.  And I think I can really see where habituation comes in to play when Masher is eating, even within a single meal.  When he takes his first bite, he opens his eyes wide, purses up his lips, and gives the spoon-wielder a look that says, “I don’t know WHAT you just stuck in there, but I think you must be trying to poison me.”  He rolls the offending bite around his mouth with his tongue, averts his eyes to play with his spoon or watch the dogs play for a moment or two, and then looks back up eagerly ready to finish the entire helping.  Just takes him a second or two to figure out what he’s there to do. 

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