Pappa buona: baby food in Italy

Pappa is one of those lovely Italian words lacking a precise English equivalent. It basically means baby food, specifically the mush they eat during the early weaning phase. I am guessing it originates from the mouths of babes – it sounds an awful lot like the first sounds many babies make (“pa…pa…”). In fact, Andrea and his mum are convinced it was Peanut’s first word. I on the other hand am still not so sure he has spoken any real words yet. Sure, once or twice he has said “ma ma” looking in my direction, but without consistent follow-up I don't really think it counts.

My boy sure loves his pappa though, by which I do mean food in general. He is an amazing eater. Like his mum, he is eager to try anything once, and like both his mum and dad, he has a delightfully hearty appetite. I am honestly hard-pressed to think of any food he has not liked.

We are vacationing in Canada for the August holidays right now, and it is fascinating to walk the aisles of the grocery store and compare baby-food offerings. One major difference is that Italian pappa is, with very few exceptions, home-made. When first weaning, it’s broth made from boiling or steaming veggies mixed with a powdered grain. Then you add mashed food (veggies, meat, legumes) as your baby starts eating more solids. 

In Canada (and of course by extension the U.S.), it seems like making your own baby food is considered a labour-intensive luxury reserved for SAHMs and/or a new bourgeois naturally-inspired trend. My friends have been surprised to hear I make almost all Peanut’s food, but it really doesn’t take that much time once you get into the rhythm of it. And I love knowing exactly what’s in the food he’s eating.

It is certainly a little more challenging to deal with home-made food when you’re on the road. In fact, in preparation for our transoceanic flight I bought my first ever pre-made pappa (aside from the little jars of mashed fruit). There was a total of three kinds to choose from! And whereas I often enjoy one or two bites of Peanut’s home-made meal, this stuff was nowhere near as yummy.