When it comes to Maggie’s diet we are fairly strict–no HFCS or artificial dyes, as free of preservatives and unpronounceable ingredients as we can get, and as much fresh and local produce and proteins as possible. We vary it up with lots of spices and fun recipes to help develop her palette and I thank all the available deities that Maggie is so free of food allergies and sensitivities that I suspect she could manage to digest rebar without trouble. That said, I will share with you my number one rule when it comes to travel, toddlers, and mealtimes:
Though Maggie does eat a fairly incredible range of things at home, when she’s on the road her system gets a little unsettled and she prefers familiar comfort food favorites. What she will and won’t eat becomes completely unpredictable. Portugal was no exception. So if she wants to eat plain white rice for the third dinner in a row? Cool! I don’t care! If she wants to fill herself with watermelon for breakfast and nothing else? It’s a fruit! Cool! I don’t care! Say it with me! I DON’T CARE!! FEEL THE LIBERATION ROLLING OFF YOUR TONGUE.
One meal was surprisingly successful. Maggie tucked into cod croquettes, a plate of presunto ham, and tried to suck the head of the shrimp after I peeled it. Presunto is similar in taste and texture to prosciutto, which Maggie calls “special ham” and is a favorite of hers, but trying to suck the brain matter of something with intact eyes was a new one. And then there was her attempt at trying tapenade:
As you can see, it’s worthwhile to offer new things here and there but this was the exception to the rule. Our usual strategy was to order her something small and get entrees she might like to share. If that didn’t work, well…we had leftover croissants from the breakfast buffet. Go carbs! I don’t care! I can’t tell you how many times her meals in Portugal contained caprese salad:
Represents a few food groups? Check. Healthy toddler-brain-boosting fat? Check. Olive oil and seasonings? Check. That’s a damn fine meal, right there. Who cares if she ate it at four different restaurants? The Portuguese have themselves some fantastic olive oil–just throw some bread on the side to help her get all of it down!
Traveling with a toddler is so rewarding and fun, but there’s a lot of potential for stress. Their little systems are so easily whacked out by change that you have to keep to a much stricter routine than you might maintain for yourself. This is also not the first time where I have taken up more space packing individual bags of her favorite familiar snacks from home than I have with fresh garments for myself. You too can have a fantastic trip, relaxed and full of wonder, if you simply remember the magic words:
I don’t care.
Stay cool, homies.