My ears always prick up when either of the girls request a dinner, and Willa surprised me recently when she asked for “fishy cakes” over a year after I first tried making them (a seemingly unsuccessful try at the time). I prefer to use salted cod rather than a fresh white fish when making fishcakes—the curing process for the fish brings out a concentrated fish flavor without being too “fishy” (as my mom would say, and contrary to Willa’s name for them). After rehydrating the fish for a few days, the saltiness disappears but that latent umami remains.
We’ve always been a bacon-forward household but I find myself using it in places that even I wouldn’t have expected just a few years ago. That succulent, umami quality is basically irresistible to Willa and Phoebe, so it can really help them to at least try new things when it’s a part of the meal. Even bacon-like will do the job: from guanciale to pancetta, I’m about to have an autumnal run of blog posts that involve some fatty cured pork products.
I haven’t been entirely forthcoming with you, and I’ve been saving this post for very special reason. There is actually a kind-of-a-big-deal chef in our extended family and we just finished up a family reunion where we got to see her.
If you have young children and you’re like me, you dream of the day when your kids start eating shellfish. The first hurdle is allergies—you hope that they don’t bust out into hives or something far more nightmarish. There’s a little voice in the back of your head wondering if you are about to poison your child the first time you give them any foods that could cause these reactions. But once that hurdle is crossed, the usual first response is of a look of wonderment that quickly turns into “WHAT THE HELL AM I EATING?” and ends with a mushy bite regurgitated onto the plate or other nearby receptacle, probably your hand.