i am learning more and more each day not only what a special eater emma is, but also how special it has been for us individually and as a family to prepare food for her and eat with her.
i don't say this because of emma's diagnosis or eating challenges. i say it instead upon reflection about the sheer diversity of food our little apple cheeks is willing to taste...and which she ultimatley enjoys when in the companionship of the ones she loves.
i cannot recall the last time we introduced something to emma during a family meal that was fruit, vegetable or fish-based that she did not enjoy with visible, visceral delight (unless, of course, it was sweet).
if you've read some of my recent posts, like foiled!, apple cheeks food journal, or how to travel with an 11 month old to Spain, you know already that our little apple cheeks slurps-up gazpacho with gusto and devours most anything tomato based.
she also adores salmon, olives, hummus, pita bread, soy yogurt, rice, orzo, spaghetti, couscous, quinoa, kamut, whole grains, beans of all kinds from french green beans to cannolini beans, black beans to garbanzo beans, hard-boiled or scrambled eggs, kale, spinach, sweet potatoes, carrots, zuchinni, cucumbers, red peppers, and the list goes on and on.
she loves fruit, as long as it is tart and not too sweet. her current favorites are blueberries, raspberries, lemons, grapefruit, apples, peaches, and pears.
she'll even eat sardines - yes, sardines. (don't worry- we don't feed her the super salty/oily/spicy kind)
but, you cannot entice emma into even swallowing a bite of something sweet. strawberries - fresh or freeze dried - so sweet she projects them out of her mouth with an impressive swiftness. bananas - can't stand them - makes a squishy face and pushes them off her tongue. her birthday cake? well, see for yourself: she kicked it...and refused to eat it.
which all brings me to this past weekend, in which emma's adventurous palate and joy of food (absent sweets of course) when in the company of her family and loved ones taught me a very dear lesson.
on Friday, we enjoyed some home-made yumminess, courtesy of emma's dada. dada decided to surprise little e and her mama with some homemade bread, heirloom tomatoes with olive oil, sea salt, and pepper, and ultimately a salmon dinner, all of which he prepared before mama came home from work. nice!
then, on Saturday, we were very fortunate to be invited to the home of some new friends who prepared a feast for us - sangria (for the adults), gazpacho (if you've read any of my posts, you know how much emma adores her gazpacho and, true to form, she ate two bowls of it), and seafood paella.
we were spoiled. but more than that, we were nurtured. the meal our friends prepared, with so much intention and care, was not only delicious, but nurturing. we felt calmer, happier, and more fulfilled than we did when we entered their home only hours earlier. what a gift!
this past Sunday, our minister spoke, among other things, of the notion that abundance (of faith, joy, god, etc...) can be found in acts of what he deemed "caloric compassion." in other words, we can provide for others - through the gift of homemade food - compassion, love, and generosity.
this, and our weekend meals, underscored something i have long felt but maybe never fully grasped: that by providing a meal for another, we gift the pleasure of tasty food and the treasure of good company, most certainly. but, well beyond that, we nurture one another. we feed each others' hearts and souls and bellies with all that our creativity, budgets, and able hands can provide.
my hope is that as emma's dada and i continue to cook for each other, for emma, for others, we not forget how truly nurturing the act of doing so can be both for our recepients and for us.
i have a feeling emma will keep reminding us....as long as we stay away from cake!