My daughter’s world is made up of textures, some of which she likes and some of which she doesn’t. She loves the way a leaf crinkles up in her hand, but isn’t nearly as enthusiastic about grass on her bare feet. Gravel is fun, but dirt not so much. Squashing a raspberry between her fingers is a necessary pleasure, but its leftover residue elicits a “yucky mommy hand.”
In those early days of motherhood, I loved watching her learn about the world from the textures around her. Upon discovering a new sensation, she would freeze for just a moment, her tiny eyes rounding in wonderment. Then would come the tentative grazing of the hand, and if pleased, the leg shaking excitement. If she didn’t like what she felt, she would recoil and whimper, anxious for me to relieve her discomfort.
The same is true for the textures of her food, only at this stage she doesn’t need me to help her out of unsavory situations. She thinks roasted potatoes and yams are delicious and can’t get enough of them, while the mashed version either ends up on me or the floor. Roasted bell peppers on the other hand, are almost immediately rejected by that little tongue, yet in its raw, crunchy form is inhaled faster than I can chop. As time goes by however, she is embracing food textures that she might not have before, and never ceases to surprise me when she suddenly decides a previously disgusting texture is now not so bad.
Back in our puree days, I used to steam and blend any green vegetables I could get my hands on. Spinach, broccoli, kale, peas, green beans, you name it, I would puree it. On some days she loved her green mash, and on others my efforts went down the drain. Today, the result is a little girl who loves to eat a variety of greens in various forms, but who is still wary of anything with a leafy texture, or as what she refers to as “leus” (lettuce).
Last night I thought we might be up for the challenge, as she seemed to be more and more intrigued by this texture in the past week. I made Frascatelli with Pecorino and Mustard Greens, and she of course began inhaling the pasta, while spitting out the leafy greens. I popped one in my mouth and made a show of chewing it, and with an amused giggle she slowly put one in her mouth, chewed and swallowed. She then proceeded to eat two servings of pasta and greens, while I held my breath and inwardly screamed in excitement. We’ll see what happens next time, but I’ll take whatever victories I can get.