The perfect snack is from Parma, Italia. My family is from here. It is very beautiful. As I look back to places where I have travelled, my favourite thing was the most simple…instead of bread on the table as you wait for your meal after a long day of walking the countryside…a basket of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese awaits you, cut into rough slices. The salty, crumbly, light texture is unlike anything else.
You cannot get this grade of cheese in the US, but you can have the US grade cheese anyways for a snack with some fruit and nuts. It does not have the same amazing aroma, taste, lightness, and texture. Travelling is truly beautiful because you can really taste the soil, grass, air, water, and the history of the place. Your senses dance, sing, and rest peacefully in gorgeously distinct flavors.
Have on its own, with soup, grated on pasta, pizza, greens, shaved over a salad, sliced with melon and prosciutto, on any dish, and babies love it too! (Over 8M, and very small amounts as it is salty.) Grate it over avocado, swiss chard, soup, pureed foods, fruits, with scrambled eggs or mini quiche, and any meat or veggie! You can put the rind in with your pasta sauce.
“It has high-quality, easily digestible proteins. The United States Department of Agriculture recommends that babies are at least 8 months before cheese is introduced.
High-quality Proteins, Basic to Baby Nutrition
Parmesan is gentle on a baby’s delicate digestive system because, during the long aging of this cheese, the proteins are broken down by enzymes into easy-to-digest free amino acids.
Calcium Rich, Lactose-free
Dairy products are the richest source of calcium, an essential nutrient that plays an important part in baby nutrition. Even infants and toddlers who have trouble digesting dairy products can generally eat Parmigiano Reggiano because the aging process renders it completely lactose-free. To build strong bones, infants 6 to 12 months of age need healthy baby foods supplying 260 milligrams of calcium per day. That number almost doubles for toddlers. Parmesan also supplies vitamin B12 as well as contributing other valuable vitamins and minerals.”
As any gardner knows, there is so much dignity, grace, and flavor received from eating even one carrot grown.
The food in Europe is deeply inspiring to me not only because it is amazingly fresh and beautiful, but because it is what I grew up eating. The idea behind these kinds of simple, delicious, fresh, peasant style, back garden recipes is how we cook with love for our family. There is the greatest care for the making and growing of the food, and for the sacred body that is nourished by it.
(Photographs: Italy, France, England, and the food ones are from our kitchen in the US.)