Alinea? IS FOR BABIES!!!
I recently had the great pleasure of babysitting my one-and-a-half-year old nephew, Ian, for a night at my brother's house in Pennsylvania. Just before heading up there, I was in the thick of shopping for and prepping the Alinea duck dish (page 224), and as I read through the list of components in the dish -- duck, banana, squash -- I thought to myself: I wonder if the little monkey butt would eat duck, banana, and squash. So, I picked up a duck at the farmers market, and a butternut squash and a banana at the supermarket on the way to my brother and sister-in-law's house.
I didn't do the full Alinea dish for him. That comes later. Instead, I just roasted the duck (after stuffing it with raw ginger, onion, and salt) and roasted the butternut squash. The banana? Just sliced and diced.
My bro and sis-in-law left for their event, and the kid and I settled in for a fun day of swinging on the swingset, checking out all the different kinds of bugs on the garage door, HulkSMASHing towers of blocks, reading the same book fifteen thousand times (and feigning surprise and terror over the shark fifteen thousand times), singing along with Moo, Bah, La La La, dancing along with videos on VH1 Classic.
Around 6 or 6:30, the duck had finished roasting in the oven -- the smells of which along the way resulted in Ian taking a break from playing to walk into the kitchen, point at the oven, and say "hot." When I'd turn on the oven light for him to see what was in there, he'd smile and say, "Ooooooooooo....."
After the bird rested for about 20 minutes outside the oven, I cut a few pieces for him to eat, along with some of the roasted butternut squash (which I just threw in the oven whole, then peeled and diced when it had cooled along with the duck) and the banana.
I strapped the little guy into his high chair and said, "Alright, bud, Aunt Sissy made you some dinner -- it's sort of from the Alinea cookbook, and I think you'll LOVE it. It's banana, squash, and duck!"
Not exactly the response I was hoping for.
Then, I put the plate in front of him:
That's a little better. A little more enthusiasm. A little more joie de vivre, as it were.
I said, "Hey goofus, how about a bite of the duck?" I handed him a piece of the duck, and he did that thing where he just chews it with his front teeth so as to not really have to taste it. I mean, it was a NEW FOOD and it MIGHT BE YUCKY:
Not loving it. But, not hating it. (Notice his hand holding a piece of banana on the tray, at the ready, to cleanse the palate after the nasty duck) He ate about four bites of the duck, and had had enough. Up next? Squash:
Then, bananas, then more squash...
The squash was the hit of the night:
Meantime, one of the dogs was desperate for something, anything to fall from the high chair tray. I threw a few pieces of duck her way, which resulted in some really (not) pleasant smells in the living room later that night, if you catch my drift. Lesson learned. Huskies + duck = Defcon 2.
Once Ian saw that the dog was getting some of HIS DINNER, he crammed another piece of duck into his mouth:
So, mostly a clean plate by the end of the meal, and a happy, happy baby:
Up Next: Wild Turbot, shellfish, water chestnuts, hyacinth vapor