Today is my French due date – 41 weeks. For those that aren’t familiar with the French maternity system, the due date is always 41 instead of 40 weeks which makes sense since apparently about 50% of women go past their due date anyways. As someone said to me, “There would be a lot less angry American women if our expectation was 41 instead of 40!” That said, it’s even more agonizing being an American living in France because all of your American family and friends are asking, calling and texting for news and updates at 40 weeks which means I could potentially have the inquiries through next week.
I feel great (minus the increasing amount of times I’m bumping into doors and can’t really fit into our pantry closet anymore) and my energy has been fantastic. I really could not have asked for a better pregnancy minus the first 12-14 weeks where the timing of the summer made me miss practically the entire season of vegetables. I didn’t eat one zucchini or eggplant. I barely caught the tail end of tomato season. Remember my Last Minute Tomato soup? That definitely had double meaning as it was literally the last minute I could finally enjoy a tomato without feeling sick. Or any vegetable for that matter. Even going to the market would send me straight for a café bathroom.
Along with 40 weeks came the arrival of my mother. And with my mother came the arrival of a in-house cook(!) and a journal that she kept during the first year of my life back in 1984. After reading through it, I can’t think of anything better to help prepare someone for being a mother than reading what their own mother was thinking, feeling and doing during the first year of your own life.
There are thorough entries of everything I ate, ranging from how much I was nursed, when I started to sleep through the night, into when I started eating solids. I know it will be wonderful guidance once I enter the tricky territory of introducing real foods to our little chou. One of my favorite entries happened to be the first time my mom fed me kale and surprise surprise (although I was actually surprised to read this), I liked it! I could not believe that she actually had recorded the first time I like the vegetable and just had to share.
When I was home over Christmas, my mom had also found a stack of old macrobiotic cookbooks that she used while pregnant. While I didn’t dive into these as eagerly as I did my own 1 year old food journal, it did make me think more about how since I was a kid, I’ve been lucky enough to be exposed to so many different theories and philosophies about food and health.
Eating miso since I was a kid, carob over chocolate, homeopathic medicines over Tylenol, cutting out gluten and white sugar to try to cure teenage acne, I’ve seen and tried a lot of things. It’s all been an education of what’s out there, what different people feel and think about how they choose to live their lives and the most enjoyable part has always been learning as much as possible about one philosophy and then pulling from it what works for me.
I think (who really knows though) that I will try to do the same when it comes to motherhood. I love Magda Gerber’s REI (Resource for Infant Educarers) book but parents swear by The Happiest Baby on the Block by Dr. Karp. What to do? Maybe, like how I’ve always tried to approach food, it’s just finding the perfect sweet spot.
Somedays I cook with butter and then two weeks might go by where I won’t even have butter in my refrigerator. I don’t try to over analyze or over think my food and my aim is to not over think parenting. I just eat as real and fresh as possible. Cook as much as I can and enjoy food and life in moderation. Perhaps aspects of motherhood will be the same? Not over thinking too much and letting our child explore, play and discover the world day by day and even meal by meal.
from The Modern Ayurvedic Cookbook by Amrita Sondhi
One of the health and food philosophies that I did learn a lot about while living in New York (to try to cure a post-teenage skin problem and overall mood issue) was Ayurvedic healing. After a consultation with the wonderful Dr. Pratima Richur at her SoHo center/spa, Pratima NYC, I went out and bought my first cookbook (ever!) about Ayurvedic food to help create dishes around my dosha (fiery Pitta of course).
With the arrival of mom meant tapping into my Ayurvedic learnings as she needed to make ghee for her AirBnb. Ghee which is just clarified butter (butter with the milk solids removed), is a digestive aid which helps improve the absorption of of nutrients.
500 grams/1 pound of non-salted butter
1. In a saucepan on medium-heat, melt butter.
2. Watch carefully to be sure it doesn’t burn while bringing to a boil.
3. When it is brought to a boil, skim off any foam (you will have to do this a few times) and reduce heat to low.
4. Stir occasionally for 15-20 minutes. When the whitish curds turn light brown, the ghee is ready.
5. Skim off any additional foam and pour through a sieve or cheesecloth into a jar with an airtight lid.
6. The liquid will harden and does not need to be refrigerated.