Saturday, October 31, 2015

Foodie Book Review: Hundred Foot Journey

With a new baby in town, reading and writing went were slowly lately. The cooking was not that brilliant either, without too many new recipes tested. But the couple of seconds of frustrations are soon replaced by some new occasions to happily enjoy the wonders - and challenges too - of motherhood.
However, I was able to finish a book that was already turned into a movie: The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais
I cannot say what exactly I was expecting from your book but for sure I was looking for some good writing. Which the book actually has (I read the book in a German translation), especially when it comes to sociological and historical parts - the journalistic profile of Morais may play a role in this. However, this is not a typical foodie book: you will not have recipes or extensive descriptions of meals. Instead, the main topic of the book is the career of Hassan Haji, as a famed Parisian chef starting with his upbringing in Mumbay. It enters the insular - and sometimes racist world -of the French cuisine as well as the complicated and not always fair Michelin star system. Expect a lot of details - and some inspiration - about the business of restaurants in France and abroad.
There are also some unforgettable foodie stories, as when it comes to recognizing the ingredients of a dish after tasting it, or vivid descriptions of French markets.
Overall, the book is more about successful imigrant stories than about food and its mysteries. The art of making a good food in France served as the main ingredient of success. Food can help this too and the positive message of the book is encouraging.
Strongly recommended as a good weekend or holiday read. Can't wait to watch the movie too!

Monday, October 26, 2015

First month with the baby

This year was very scarce in terms of blogging, but there was a motivation: the nine months of pregnancy, two new jobs and since one month, the baby boy that gave us a lot of work and to-do-list and many sleepless nights. But watching him growing up and becoming a new little person every day gives me strength and happiness that sometimes can be even stronger than my love for words.
Anyway, now that a certain routine is set up - meaning a lot of practice in terms of waking up fast in the night and finishing everything - the preparation of milk and diapers changing - in just a matter of minutes, there is also time for reflection and a lot of writing. Although busy, I was able to keep reading and kept a certain list of topics I want to cover in the next days, if the baby will agree.

A couple of advices

As for now, my first lessons learned of the first month as a baby boy mother:
- Once the baby is born, forget about everything you used to do before: sleep especially and going out. Even when you have a supportive partner or husband on your side, doing things together is much better than hoping than the other part will do it while you are away enjoying some special private time. All your hobbies and little secret pleasures do not make time at all and this is the way to be. The baby is the most important part of your lives now.

Ask an expert

- You never know enough about how to deal with the baby problems and checking with the specialists - doctors and midwife - as well as with experienced relatives and friends is very important for your peace of mind and well being of your child. From the reasons the baby is crying till how to make bath, there are thousands of reasons to ask support and help. Do not hesitate to do it! Getting books and reading online about baby development, preferably together with your partner or husband is also very important! The best is to keep reading about the current stage of development and do not get too much deep into the children life. Wait and see and keep the notes and the information for later. Your time is limited and you need to have the mind fresh for the new challenges. 
In our case, one of the problems we had to deal witlh wasl how to correctly bind the diapers, after we realized a couple of times in a row that the boy was wet - and very unhappy about this! We kept practising and practising and now we are finally able to make it even with the eyes closed...

Be together!

- After the woman gives birth there are a lot of changes and transformations taking place -as it was not enough what happens during the nine months of pregnancy! - and coping with the challenges of the new baby may not be easy. As long as you are not alone and your partner supports you and the baby, you can get along better and try to get adjusted to the new life. Expect some fights and misunderstandings and hard hours but as long as you keep talking and there is love and understanding everything will go smoothly. Once in a while, leave the other part some space and time and try to spend at least 30 minutes differently. You will get very refreshed and ready for the new challenges. 
As for the sleep deprivation, a chronical symptom for the new parents, the best is to try to sleep when the baby is sleeping. 

Simple is (always better)

- I left the hospital with a lot of packages of wet napkins and creams and other cosmetics. I used them intensively in the first weeks till I suddenly realized some red skin spots and irritation in the sensitive parts of the body. The cause? The Pampers napkins that had some alcohol and other substances harmful for the new born skin. What about some warm water and usual napkins to clean him? With this recipe plus some plant based cream his skin got better and the guily napkins are now used for cleaning the dust from the furniture. 
For the evening massage, we use a pharmacy formula of almond oil very helpful for the skin regeneration in the first weeks of life. In the case of the laundry, we found some bio-, non-perfumed ingredients. 

Bath is very important

- In the hospital, they told me to do the bath maybe a bit later in the month but common sense and practise of people with experience adviced me to do something else. The hard part is to know how to do it and for that you need someone to show it to you! Otherwise, besides the obvious cleanliness reasons, a bath before the sleep helps the baby to have a longer night and to relax.

Never too early to start with habits

- As we, adults, the babies need an organise life. Try to set up rituals in the evening - bath for instance - always at the same time - between 19.00 and 20.00 is the best before the baby can have a long sleep till midnight at least. Also, in the morning, spend at least 20 minutes with some basic face cleaning and changing to daily outfits. You may think the baby is too small to realize this, but it is part of a daily routine that you will respect if from now on. 
Also, it is important to make the difference between day and night, by creating the dark ambiance in the room. A small lamp kept open during the night and avoiding the switch on the big light is also part of the first weeks ritual. 

Always in contact with the baby

At this stage in life, when the baby does not see and hear good, the touching is the only way to create a special contact with the baby. Either if you touch his face during eating or you have some private moments before sleep or, as in my case, use any opportunity to touch and kiss as much as possible. 
A mistake to avoid though is to end up staying with the baby in the arms every time he is sleeping. The remedy to this was to bring the car chair in the room you are staying and keep the discrete company to the baby, but without turning into a slave. As much as the kid needs your love and attention it also needs to be independent and this is the lesson to keep in mind as early as possible. 

This is all for now. As the kid entered the month 2 of life, we are already prepared for new lessons and a new blog post in a couple of weeks.