The newspaper I work for has this every-once-in-a-while food feature in which staffers share a personally significant recipe along with a little bit about why it matters to them.
One of my favorites among the stories my dad tells is about an Italian deli near where he works. The story is mostly about the smell of the place. The meats and the brine. How, even as an adult, walking into that place and smelling that smell brings back the feeling of going there with his own dad. Sensory memory. I love it. And this food feature is a little like that, I think.
One of our very good friends contributed a piece about a lentil soup he and his wife – before she was his wife – ate every morning during a long swing through Turkey they once had. And the photographer who shot our wedding wrote about shrimp enchilladas. On their first date, he and his wife went to an enchillada-themed restaurant and he’s been refining his version of the dish they ate there ever since.
I was thinking I might ask to write one about capirotada. It’s a bread pudding I learned to make when David and I lived in England. Out of necessity because the bread we bought in supermarkets there went moldy after just a couple of days and we hated to throw it all away. And out of sentiment because I was homesick. My capirotada recipe is written somewhere in the middle of a little diary I was keeping at the time. So when I pull it out, I’m also reading about things I was thinking and seeing and worrying about when I was 22ish.
But then I thought it would be even neater to do one on making Alice’s babyfood at home. I thought I’d wait until I’d tried it a few times and found a recipe and method that worked consistently. And there were some books on infant nutrition I was going to borrow from the library.
This weekend I decided just to wing it.
And realized that “Peel, steam, mash” does not make for very captivating prose.
But it does produce tasty baby yams!
OK. Perhaps I made it sound easier than it really was: After I peeled, but before I steamed, I chopped. Also, the mashing was done mechanically – in a blender set to “puree,” to which I added a little water and a sprinkle of brown sugar.
I went with yams because I’ve read it’s a good first food and I already know she likes them. And they did actually taste yammier than the jarred version. Alice’s pediatrician said they would, but I didn’t really believe her. We’re going to try carrots next.
Oh, wow. It is nice when things are simpler than expected.