Lately, most of my recipe ideas have sprung from remnants of the battle to get our son, Jack, to transition to solid foods. He’s a little late to the game, now 11 months old, but he has good reason to be skeptical, having been diagnosed with “severe” reflux pretty much at birth, and needing an NG feeding tube around his heart surgery when he was 4 months old. Three times a day, I make a new plate to entice him: steamed broccoli, cottage cheese, and cherry tomatoes; penne with marinara, sliced mozzarella, and cucumber spears; peanut butter toast, banana pieces, and halved grapes. (These are some of my better days. Sometimes it’s just teething wafers and kale stems.) Keep trying, the specialists say. He’ll be eating solid foods before you know it, they say. And Jack picks up the food and rubs it in his hair. Then laughs.
This week’s pizza night inspiration began with a zip-top bag of halved black grapes that Jack had been rejecting for days. The Flavor Bible told me they’d go well with Camembert, and voila! Our taste buds were going for a jaunt en France.
I seasoned the dough with herbes de Provence before topping it, to accentuate Camembert’s French flair, and I added a big handful of peppery arugula when the pizza came out of the oven, to brighten it up a bit, both in taste and in appearance.
Out of exasperation, I dropped a whole slice on Jack’s high chair tray while John and I at ours, and this happened. (!!!) He swiped it up in one hand, smashed it to his face, and nibbled happily on the crust, then the toppings (even arugula). Meanwhile, John and I ate our meal in silence (exchanging bug-eyed looks), trying our hardest not to pay attention to the miracle that was taking place inches away. Like we learned from Planet Earth—do not disturb the animal in its natural habitat.
Poor little dude. Was he waiting for a slice of homemade, fancy-pants pizza this whole time?