Saturday, 19 May 2012

The tale of the Princess and the food - A Fiddlydy tale



In the faraway land of Fiddlydy the baby Princess was now 6 months old. The Housekeeper, the Cook and the Head of Counsellors had been poised in expectation of that day as, according to the unwritten rules of Fiddlydy, it was the time when a baby started to eat solid foods.
Up until that day Princess Josephine-Elisabeth-Eugenia-Mary, mother of the baby, had been feeding her daughter herself. The young mother had in fact introduced this practice in Fiddlydy, where babies were usually fed the juice of the dontmakesuchafuss plant. But the harvest had been lost when the royal baby was born and a foreigner to Fiddlydy had provided the new mother with this solution to feed her newborn.

Moreover Princess Josephine-Elisabeth-Eugenia-Mary loved feeding her baby with her own milk. And even when the Fiddlydy scientists managed to synthetize the dontmakesuchafuss plant the Princess turned up her nose at the chemical formula and chose to keep on feeding her baby by her own means. It had caused a bit of an uproar among the palace Main People but the Princess did not care. She had the support of her father anyway, although he had not been too pleased that her daughter called the little Princess Elfie instead of Josephine-Elisabeth-Eugenia-Mary-Victoria. Later on he had conceded that it did save an awful lot of ink and paper in the royal correspondance and records...

But with the new milestone in Elfie's development Fiddlydy Main People saw a chance of regaining control over the young Princess's life! The Head of Counsellors listed all the vitamins, nutrients, proteins, minerals and what's-nots that they declared the baby needed in her diet. The Housekeeper listed all the different foods they needed to buy to provide the said vitamins, nutrients, proteins, minerals and what's-nots. And the Cook listed the recipes to accomodate a variation of the different foods to serve in one dish. All the Cook's recipes ended with 'blend together'. Then for a whole week the Cook cooked, blended and froze in lttle cubes an infinity of baby meals. They filled a whole freezer all by themselves.

And so it was that one fine day Princess Elfie was taken to the palace nursery dining-room, sat in her high chair and offered a bowl of greyish goo... In front of the bowl a menu said 'Roasted parsnips, green beans, rump steak sauce lyonnaise' and on each side of the bowl was an array of extraordinary spoons. There was a tiny spoon with a long handle, a round medium spoon with a short handle, a spoon with a handle that went at an angle in its middle, a spoon with a very deep end looking like a pelican's beak, a spoon with the oval bit placed sideways at the end of the handle, and a very strange spoon - as if all the other ones were not strange enough - with an empty circle of silver for the end... The Head of Counsellors, Housekeeper, and Cook were standing on the little Princess's left. Princess Josephine-Elisabeth-Eugenia-Mary seized the closest spoon, filled it with goo and presented it to her daughter. Princess Elfie looked at the spoon with a suspiscious frown, tasted a minute bit of goo, pulled a face and promptly let id dribble down her chin. Her mother stirred the goo a little bit, filled the spoon again and offered it to her daughter. The baby clamped her mouth shut. "Come on Elfie." gently said her mother, but the little princess pushed the spoon away.
Princess Josephine-Elisabeth-Eugenia-Mary turned towards the Head of Counsellors, the Housekeeper, and the Cook. "Can you leave us, please." she said. A young, impressionable mother she might be, but the Princess was also the heir of the kingdom of Fiddlydy and she was not going to let the Main People intimidate her.
As Princess Josephine-Elisabeth-Eugenia-Mary was also very kind she resolved to let the Head of Counsellors, the Housekeeper and the Cook think that her daughter had eaten her diner. She disposed of it in the little toilet adjacent to the nursery dining-room. Then she took her baby in her arms and gave her a nice long feed. Princess Elfie went to sleep and while the little girl rested in her cot her mother took the empty bowl to the kitchens and warmly thanked the Cook for her daughter's meal.
Every day and every mealtime the charade repeated itself, except that Princess Josephine-Elisabeth-Eugenia-Mary dismissed the Cook, the Housekeeper and the Head of Counsellors before offering anything to her daughter. She then disposed of the meal and fed the baby herself. After a week Princess Josephine-Elisabeth-Eugenia-Mary grew tired ofd hiding away in the nursery dining-room for every of her daughter's mealtimes. And she needed to find a way out of this ludicrous situation.

First Princess Josephine-Elisabeth-Eugenia-Mary asked that all her daughter's meals would be served in her own appartments. Then she instructed her maid to provide her with a cooking apparatus as well as some fresh ingredients every day. And when Princess Josephine-Elisabeth-Eugenia-Mary had all she needed she started cooking all the different foods carefully chosen for Princess Elfie but without blending them all together. Instead she cut the food in pieces that her daughter could grasp easily.

For the next few weeks they both played at eating. Sometimes the food was in a plate on the table, sometimes they had a picnic, sometimes Princess Josephine-Elisabeth-Eugenia-Mary put it in a cardoard hat box and called it a bring-it-with-us-and-eat-it-in-the-garden meal. Princess Elfie grabed and dropped and mashed and kneaded. She sucked and dribbled and chewed and coughed and spat. After quite a while she started to eat the food, bite off mouthfulls, chew and swallow. And all the while she enjoyed herself immensly.
At nine months she had a varied diet and managed well lots of differents foods while still having her mother's milk too. She was even eating some of the grey goo that was still being served to her. She likes to dip her food in it. It was just as well...

The Head of Counsellors, the Housekeeper and the Cook were growing uneasy, not knowing how Princess Elfi's feeding times were going. So they suggested to the King to have a semi-official diner with his grand-daughter. The King would be there of course, as well as Queen Josephine-Elisabeth-Eugenia, the Queen's mother Duchess Josephine-Elisabeth, the Head of Counsellors, the Grand Chambellan, the Prime Minister and Lady Poshgatecrasher who for some reason was attending whenever an official event was planned.

When the big day arrived Princess Elfie sat at the head of the table. A steaming bowl of grey goo was placed in front of her while the other guests were served luscious vegetables with a rich butter gloss, perfectly caramelised meats and rolls of three different sorts of breads. Princess Josephine-Elisabeth-Eugenia-Mary took a few pieces of food from her own plate and placed them in the saucer on which her daughter's bowl was resting. The Head of Counsellors blanched. Princess Elfie took a carrot in her chubby little hand. The Housekeeper turned as red as a beetroot. The baby dipped her carrot in the grey goo. The Cook nearly fainted on the spot. But neither of them could say anything. The King was warmly smiling to his grand daughter. He had spent so many meals unable to converse with the Queen while she was spoon-feeding one of their numerous children that he was delighted to be able to have all the attention of his daughter. The Queen herself was congratulating the baby on being such a big and clever girl who could feed herself. Even the old Duchess Josephine-Elisabeth, usually very stern, was smiling beningly to her great-grand-daughter.

After that diner the grey goo stopped being served to Princess Elfie, while the Main People thought of what they could do next to try and reassert their authority...

Copyright 2012 Mother Goutte

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