My friend Nat lived in San Francisco when my daughter was born and I was just over the bridge. Since she was the only person I knew living close by who had a baby, we quickly became allies as we dealt with an identity shift and a new life focus. I hate to age myself (it really wasn’t all that long ago) but somehow being a new mother then didn’t seem as in as it is now. Magazines and gossip television didn’t dwell on the who’s who of pregnant ladies and a few months later, their fashionable youngsters.
You didn’t see the vast assortment of ultra cool, contemporary rides that babies cruise around in these days or the hip stores and catalogues brimming with every conceivable accoutrement to assist in soothing, entertaining and styling infants. We had bustling Union Street as a distraction, but the restaurants and stores attempting to lure us with colorful cocktails and skinny jeans really sought the single and unencumbered.
When it comes to kids though, one of the biggest changes I’ve noticed is the ever-expanding array of wholesome baby and toddler food-for-purchase options. Although these products have hit the marketing mark targeting busy parents looking for convenience, they do a disservice to kids who really need an opportunity to expand their palette with various tastes and textures. Not to mention the impact these little packages have on our landfills.
If I could start from scratch, I’d be more like Nat and avoid the “kid food” trap altogether. At meal time, she didn’t go for the plain, simplistic fare. (See the Bay Area blog devoted to the One Family Meal for some great recipes.) Which is how I was happily introduced to this delicious marinated salmon. Not only was I surprised that our daughters didn’t chuck the fish right off the high chair tray, but I found that it was good enough to serve guests at a dinner party. And since then, it has become my go-to preparation. Even the salmon-haters like it. Try it out on the barbecue this holiday weekend.
And speaking of feeding kids real adult food right from the start, I’ll be sharing over time a number of resources beginning with the much admired Karen Le Billon and her common sense approach to feeding children. In her book, French Kids Eat Everything, she shares 10 “French Food Rules” which summarize the French philosophy she experienced while living there with her family. In France, eating well is considered an important skill and is taught in school and reinforced at home.
Check out her website in which she shares ideas, tips and recipes along with some eye-opening realities about how differently food is viewed and valued. Below is a sample menu of a typical school lunch which is estimated to cost the same $3 as the mostly mediocre fare found in the U.S.. Funding there comes from local municipalities, not from federal sources.
You can read more about French school lunch here.
I’ll close with a fun trailer that summarizes Karen Le Billon’s book. Thanks Karen!
Grilled Salmon Marinade
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 4 tablespoons orange juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard
- 1 small green onion / scallion (alternative: onion)
- 1 garlic clove, diced
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger, minced
- 2 tablespoon tomato sauce (alternative: ketchup)
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Measure soy sauce in a measuring cup and then add remaining ingredients.
- Stir with a whisk.
- Pour over salmon and marinade for 30 minutes.