This time last year, I welcomed my first child into the world. A lot has changed over the past 12 months. For one, hangovers are different now. Unable to lay in until lunch, wake to a bacon buttie, strong coffee and ultimately more sleep, I’m up to my elbows in parental responsibilities. Dining is different too. That late, last-minute dinner booking? Gone. Three hour degustation? I don’t think so. Do I miss it? Not a bit.
You see, over the past year I have been fortunate enough to rediscover something. Something that most adults, myself included, can take for granted, especially those who view food as a staple – a utilitarian need. I have been witness to my child’s discovery of the joys of food.
I have watched with interest as he has tried his first manderin; his face almost turning inside out as he discovers sourness for the first time. I have looked on with pride as he has eaten the smoked haddock croquette at The Montegue – complete with the curried mayonnaise dipping sauce – and looked up at me as if to say, “more?”. And I have laughed hysterically as he has tried his first morsel of chocolate ahead of the Easter season. A moment where his mother’s German heritage was written all over his face, like the German exchange student from The Simpsons, Üter Zörker.
Am I saying that food is more enjoyable with children in your life? Absolutely not. The joys of discovering new food(s) are not lost in adulthood. However as adults, we tend to take for granted those raw, almost primal discoveries. Sweetness, sourness, bitterness, saltiness and umami are to a large extent, common occurrences. Yet to a child, each one is a riot and opens up a whole new world of culinary discovery.