Babies can handle — and even love — exotic flavors - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

Babies can handle — and even love — exotic flavors

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Posted: Wednesday, August 6, 2003 10:40 am | Updated: 2:03 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

Peek in the cupboards of Joohee Muromcew, and you’re likely to find some rather exotic foods: falafel, palak paneer, Kiwi-Lime Aqua Fresca, baba ghanouj. So she has a sophisticated palate. So what?

But wait: These aren’t for the adults in her family. They’re baby foods she prepared for her 9-monthold son, Alexie.

And he loved them.

So will other kids, says Muromcew, a San Francisco-based author who has given baby foods a gourmet makeover in "The Baby Bistro Cookbook."

Her book includes recipes for "Baby Ghanouj," a version of the popular Turkish eggplant salad known as baba ghanouj; falafel, a Middle Eastern specialty consisting of chickpeas spiced with garlic and tahini; and palak paneer, an Indian dish of curried spinach and cheese. You might be saying to yourself, "Eggplant? Chickpeas? Tahini? Curried spinach? My kid wouldn’t touch that stuff!"

"But many of the robust flavors are a hit with children when they are given a taste of them," Muromcew says.

In truth, she has greatly simplified the ingredient list for many of the exotic dishes and reduced the amount of oil used for cooking them. She contends that connoisseurs of some of these dishes would actually find her "gourmet" recipes for babies laughably simple and Americanized.

But they still satisfy her goal of introducing young taste buds to new, highly flavored and unusual foods, using organic ingredients that are simple to prepare.

Texasbased dietitian and cookbook author Bridget Swinney loves what Muromcew is proposing in the way of homemade baby foods.

"Moms have been making their own baby foods for years," Swinney says. "However, it sort of fell out of favor, and there seems to be renewed interest. . . . I especially like Muromcew’s approach, using organic foods with ethnic flair. After all, we are a melting pot nation."

The idea for the book was born out of Muromcew’s own experience: Her infant son began to reject solid foods, so she sought her pediatrician’s advice. He told her, "It probably doesn’t taste very good."

"He was right," Muromcew says. "When I tasted some of the foods I had been offering, it was bland. So I switched from typical baby food to making dishes for him like I was making for my husband and I."

Swinney thinks it’s a great idea to get babies to expand their taste buds.

"The sooner they start tasting

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