Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Mediterranean diet for bambini...

We've all heard about how great the Mediterranean diet is for your health. But you may not have known just how early this diet begins in Italy. Except for red wine, babies eat pretty much the same stuff adults do. Here are some examples:

1. olive oil--for babies. Notice that it's made by Nestlè, it's got a kid-friendly blue bear on the label, and it's enriched with extra vitamins. It doesn't taste all that great, but Italian babies don't know that yet.
2. pasta--Italians are serious about their pasta--in any major supermarket, you'll find at least two aisles filled with seemingly hundreds of varieties of pasta. Here's a box of iron/vitamin-enriched pasta recommended for babies 5 months and older. The tiniest pasta available is for 4 month-old bambini and looks like mini-cous cous. 3. fish--You know the Mediterranean diet includes fish, but you may not have known it comes packed in baby food jars. I counted 7 different types of baby food fish, and here's a sampling of salmon with vegetables.
4. rabbit--that's right, as in bunny. I know I'm a hypocrite because I do eat (and love) meat. But bunny rabbits? And does the bunny on the package have to look so darn cute?? But if you think rabbit in baby food jars is odd, check out the next one...
5. horse--Yup. As in Flicker. Black Beauty. Trigger. And that pony you always wanted as a child.
We already had the olive oil and pasta at home for our 14-month-old. But I actually went out and bought the salmon, rabbit and horse so I could take these photos in the privacy of my own home and not look like a looney toon taking photos of baby food in the supermarket.
When I unloaded the groceries, I told my (Italian) husband: "Honey, get a load of this!" His reaction? He picked up the horse jars and said, "Great stuff--horse meat is really tasty." And he wasn't even smiling...he was completely serious.
How did I not know this when I married him ten years ago? It's just not the kind of thing you ask before matrimony. You discuss how you'll discipline the kids, sure. And how many kids you'd like to have, of course. But the question of whether or not we'd feed our kids horse and/or rabbit from a jar just never came up.
My husband is out in the kitchen now making lunch for the kids (since Italians all come home mid-day for lunch). I'd better get out there and hide those baby food jars...


Alison Ashley Formento said...

I can handle salmon in jars, but Peter Cottontail? And that horse on the package looks just like the one portraying Sea Biscuit in the movie. Skip the food. More red wine, please.

Natalie said...

I know what you mean...pass that red wine. ;-)

TinaFerraro said...


I have never paid any attention to Italian baby food, but now I wish I had! Rabbit, horse, salmon??? Thanks for sharing this!


Anonymous said...


My mothers side is all Italian; her grandmother arrived in the States in the early 1900s. Down through the generations, fish, like anchovies has always been out on the dinner table; I've never heard of traditions of eating horse or rabbit meat- thank goodness. It's amazing what different cultures view as a normal diet (in Peru, they'd be eating my daughter's pet guinea pig or in China, the cat).

Natalie said...

You're right, Anonymous...I'm sure we'd be surprised by what other cultures feed their babies!