Today, guest Jeannie Marshall and I talk about a subject near and dear to my heart: food. Italian food, no less – Jeannie, Canadian by birth, and her husband chose to make their home in Rome, Italy a little more than a decade ago. When Jeannie became pregnant with their son Nico, she developed a fascination for how Italians introduce their babies to food, and the part that food plays in Italian children’s lives now that factory foods and agribusiness have made inroads into Italy. She details her experiences in one of my favorite books, The Lost Art of Feeding Kids.
Our conversation reflects Jeannie and her family’s love of Italy, Italians, and Italian food – and also her family’s first-hand experiences fighting that battle that we fight every day: getting in start scrolling expensive and tasty meals on the table (and then getting our kids to eat those meals).
Find the complete notes to this episode at weturnedoutokay.com by clicking here!
One memorable line from The Lost Art of Feeding Kids: Jeannie writes about when Italian mom of baby Rocco, a boy the same age as Nico who is being exposed to first foods as well, says it’s as though we North Americans “were teaching our babies not to like food.”
Italian babies, it turns out, aren’t exposed to foods one at a time to detect allergies; instead, they enjoy a special broth at first, to which parts of the family’s meal are puréed and added as the baby gets a little older.
Our conversation ranges over so much else! Listen for:
- the differences between visiting the beach and sharing a restaurant meal as a family – a frequent Italian family trip – and visiting a waterpark that opened nearby, where the only food options were those very familiar to us North Americans, hamburgers and chicken nuggets and anything that can be set up in a warming tray; reading The Lost Art of Feeding Kids three years ago was the first time it occurred to me how pervasive the warming-tray culture is here where I live
- how agribusiness makes the food of our cultures not cool, and how dangerous that can be for a typical family (and their tastebuds)
- why parents and grandparents are sometimes at odds for what is best in raising the newest generation
Jeannie is optimistic that the beloved Italian food culture is winning the war against the food companies trying to hijack it. She shares that there is a heightened awareness among Italians of the importance of passing on traditions to children, and that those legendary and beloved street markets are thriving.
I hope you enjoy our conversation, and I hope to have Jeannie back on the show in the future!
Review The Lost Art of Feeding Kids here.
Jeannie’s friend Rachael Roddy has written a cookbook that Jeannie describes as “a wonderful companion for The Lost Art; it becomes available in the US this spring. When it does, I’ll link to it here!
Sign up for my free gift to you, the 9 1/2 Key Resources for Old-School Parents here.