EPICUREAN BRIEFING
In Which Molli Gets Mush

Nov. 18 - Molli seems to have been getting longer and leaner over the past few weeks. The distended beer belly of her early infancy has subsided. There are still pinchable rolls of fat on her arms, legs, and neck, but the loss of her belly fat concerned us the way every change concerns first-time parents. So we made an appointment to see our visiting nurse yesterday. (She remains our "visiting nurse" despite the fact that the "visiting" part of her title now applies to us rather than her.)

The visiting nurse weighed and measured Molli. She's over 63 centimeters, or 25.2 inches, long and weighs just under 6 kilos, or 13.2 pounds. (I'm referring to Molli, obviously—the visiting nurse is somewhat larger.)

She (the visiting nurse) told us those numbers seemed appropriate, but she couldn't give us specific percentiles because "the system was down." (Our own "system" wasn't down, however, so I was able to check the numbers out on this growth chart after we got home.) In any case, she told us, Molli seemed to be developing very nicely and she didn't see any grounds for concern. She did tell us, however, that we could begin experimenting with solid food.

I'll turn forty in March, and Trine is in her early thirties, but at heart we remain a couple of children. Being told we could begin to experiment with solid food for Molli was like being told we could have ice-cream for dinner. We rushed to the grocery store on the way home and picked up some pear-flavored majsvælling, or powdered baby corn meal (I think).

I don't know much about baby food—yet. I only know that I'm overwhelmed by the choices. Up until now the only choice involved in feeding Molli has been which boob to feed her with—a choice with which I've had little to do. Suddenly we're looking at dozens of options in hundreds of flavors, and this whole gastronomical genre is coming at me in a foreign language. (I don't, for example, know the English words for vælling or grød.)

It was inevitable, then, that the pear-flavored majsvælling we bought should have been the wrong product. But by the time we got home and acknowledged the inevitable, we were too excited to bother going back to the store and getting majsgrød or risvælling or whatever the hell it was we ought to have gotten. There was a bottle of Nestle's Banana-Apple Mush for 4-Month-Olds that I'd bought a day or two earlier out of random curiosity ("Look what I bought! Baby food! How weird is that?"). We decided to try a few teaspoons of that.

Immediately after deciding to feed her, I was struck with apprehension. Was there some special way we were supposed to be feeding her? Did we need a special spoon? What if she choked? What if the baby food caught fire? What if—

Well, I turned back to our "system" and reviewed a couple of websites with advice on feeding infants. They all stressed the importance of the child being secured in his or her high chair prior to the feeding.

High chair?

I was momentarily alarmed. We don't yet own a high chair, and even if we did Molli couldn't possibly sit up in it. She's very good at holding her head up, these days, but she ain't sitting upright any time soon.

I asked Trine how we could possibly feed Molli when we didn't own the appropriate furniture and she wasn't even sitting up yet anyway.

"We hold her up," Trine said.

It was a sensible answer. I walked away from the computer confident that Trine knew better than Google.

And so we poured a few tablespoons of mush out of the bottle and into a little cup. We took a little spoon and scalded it with boiling water, then cooled it with cold water. Trine sat down in the living room with Molli upright in her lap. I set up our video camera on its tripod and prepared our digital camera as well. The big moment had finally arrived.

I dipped the spoon into the mush and brought it up to Molli's face.

"It's mush," I said. "Mmmmm, mush!"

Molli gave me a bewildered look. It had been a poor choice of spoons: this was the very same spoon we used every evening to give Molli her vitamins, the taste of which—even when diluted with sugarwater—has limited appeal. She eyed the spoon suspiciously.

"Not vitamins," I said. "Mush. Yummy mush. Open up."

And with that I gently inserted the spoon into her mouth.

I'm not sure what I was expecting. Even I'm not fool enough to have expected her to close her mouth around the spoon and devour every bit of the mush. But I was certainly expecting more than what she actually did, which was more or less nothing.

She sat there looking at me curiously, her mouth half open, the spoon resting on her lower lip.

"Eat it," I said. "Mmmmm!"

She didn't seem interested in eating it. She didn't seem interested in much of anything beyond the warmth of mommy's lap and daddy's strange new histrionics. So I brushed the mush off the spoon on her upper lip, leaving about half the teaspoon in her mouth, and quickly withdrew the spoon.

"There!" I exclaimed. "Now you have to eat it!"

Molli smiled at my enthusiasm, and the mush plopped out of her mouth and onto her bib.

We repeated the process several times. In the end I suppose she may have actually swallowed one or two grams of mush.

We'll call it a victory.

Dicte Heads

It was on this date in 1477 that William Caxton published the first book printed in England. The book was a translation of The Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers, by Frenchman Guillaume de Tignoville. The translation to English was performed by Anthony Wodville, Earl Rivers, who had devoted a considerable portion of his life to the study of philosophers' dictes.

Wodville first formulated the theory that the length of a philosopher's dicte was less important than its thrust. He has also been credited with originating the theory that a philosopher's dicte was commensurate with his shoe size. Neither theory is given much credence by contemporary philosophers, most of whom appear to be dicteless anyway.

Today is Army Day in Haiti, Republic Day in Latvia, Independence Day in Morocco, the Sultan's Birthday in Oman, and Flag Day in the Solomon Islands.

Today is the birthday of Linda Evans (1942), Brenda Vaccaro (1939), Alan Shepard, Jr. (1923), Imogene Coca (1908), George Gallup (1901), and Eugene Ormandy (1899).

Happy Thursday!

© 2004, The Moron's Almanac™

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