In preparation for my first international holiday next week, I’ve been thinking about my pals abroad, and whether their foodie experience is any difference to mine. I decided to interview my good friend Sander, who has an American mummy and a Norwegian daddy. We met when we were both still in our mummies’ tummies at NCT classes in London, but now he’s moved to Amsterdam so his daddy can ride to work on a bicycle and his mummy can wear clogs.
FLYNN: Hello my friend, or should I say, hallo mijn vriend! Can you tell our readers about your weaning journey? Did your mummy follow any particular regime, or did she just wing it?
SANDER: I was very much ready to have more than milk at around 4.5 months, but mummy wasn’t really ready and took the advice from our Health Visitor to start at 5 months. Mummy introduced rice cereal to me in the US because grandma bought a box and I was seriously guzzling the stuff down. I loved it but mummy wanted me to be open to different food so the next week I had my first mushy peas and mashed carrots. I really enjoyed mashed bananas too. Mummy would try and introduce a new vegetable about every few weeks and by 7.5 months I was a mashed veggie or fruit fanatic wanting less milk and two meals a day. Happy days!
F: Do you think she’d do anything differently if you ever had a little brother or sister?
S: Since I was a good eater early on she probably would start the baby led weaning thing much sooner. The best time I have is when I eat myself and it gets everywhere. When mummy tried to feed me it just wasn’t as fun.
F: Do you recommend any weaning books or kit for young babies?
S: First, I really like the IKEA Kladdig bib for times when a true mess will go down! It allows me to really throw my food all over the place. These lovely bowls by Vital Baby that have the best suction ever, and no matter what they never get loose. The best sippie cup is the Munchkin spoutless as it feels more like a real adult cup and has helped me transition to drinking out of a cup quite well.
F: Tell me about Amsterdam, have you noticed anything different about the Dutch and their attitudes to food and wellbeing?
S: The Dutch are pretty simple healthy eaters. However, dining out is very popular as food culture in Amsterdam has all sorts of ethnic influences from the Dutch colonies including Suriname and Indonesia. Move over peanut butter, satay sauce is all the rage here!
But really everyday Dutch eating is simple. The diet consists of a lot of bread and cheese. The stereotypes about the Dutch are all true. The bread is always brown and multigrain to some extent. Bakeries are far more popular and prevalent which is nice to see to purchase a fresh loaf. Also, I wouldn’t have known this until I moved here, but the amount of fruit and veg being brought to the till along with organic produce in the supermarket seems to be much more than what I witnessed in London. It’s quite normal to see a Dutch person pop out of the supermarket with a loaf of bread, some yogurt and a bag of carrots for lunch.
F: I know your mummy is American and your daddy is Norwegian, does that mean she likes to eat hamburgers and he likes salmon?
S: Well, pretty much…yes. My mummy and daddy are creatures of habit, but over the years have come to appreciate each other’s tastes and also love ethnic food..especially Mexican and Japanese. Now, salmon burgers are pretty popular in our house too.
F: I know you started nursery quite recently, what is the food like there? Is it different to your nursery in London?
S: I am eating so many fruits and veggies, its certainly helping to keep me regular! The nursery has a no added sugar or salt policy. What I like most is the morning tea and fruit break at around 9:30. Yes, we drink a very light tea to help us start the day! It’s actually room temperature versus the piping hot tea with milk you would drink in London. Mummy was really shocked about the tea bit, but I like it. For lunch, the kitchen is part of a cool communal area so one of the staff members cooks a veggie stew, soup or pasta while we play. We normally eat plenty of bread with the hot lunch served. Then for afternoon snack we eat more fruit and vegetables plus a breadstick or two. The meals are much more basic than the London nursery, but I like it and it helps me get my 5-a-day pretty quickly.
F: What are your top five favourite foods?
S: Greek yogurt, cheese, salmon, eggs and these cool raisin bread buns that I discovered here in Amsterdam.
F: Can you recommend any great family-friendly restaurants in Amsterdam?
S: Moeders – its’ a small place but they are fantastic with kids and give us with colouring books and toys. It also serves traditional Dutch food and is normally a good choice for visitors.
De Foodhallen is an indoor foodcourt with options for all and plenty of room for us kids.
Surprisingly, Vondelpark has one of my favourite cafes with the best baby and toddler playground right next to it called Groot Melkhuis.
F: If you had all of us round for dinner, what would you make? And can I have the recipe?
S: This is a tough question. Instead, here are some of my favourite dishes at the moment thanks to all of this lovely food blog inspiration. I would probably pick a dish based on the weather of course!
Zucchini (Courgette) Meatballs served on fresh pasta from the italian deli right next door ..When mummy cooks these I go ape!
Korean beef and rice bowl (mummy tries to keep to low sodium and minimal sugar but the flavors are amazing).
Chicken fajita salad (I am not too hot on the salad leaves but the combination of seasoning on the chicken and avocado are darn right yummy).