Your cart £ 0.00



Weaning: what happens in other countries?

We know it, food has a very strong cultural dominance. Around the world, the modes of preparation and consumption are different, and the ingredients used vary dramatically.

But then, what does happen when it comes to weaning? Does a Japanese baby follow the same steps as a norwegian one? Do they consume the same food? Do they do it in the same way?

What does this teach us about Taste Education?

Ratatouie is taking you on a little tour to find out how babies around the globe learn how to eat.


In the UK, mothers either feed their babies with a spoon or follow the baby led method, or a mix of both to follow their babies’ moods and appetite. It generally starts between 4 and 6 months with baby rice, then cooked vegetables and fruits, before introducing other food categories.

In Belgium, they start with raw fruits blended smooth with a bit of water that they call a ‘panade’.

Italians make their veggie purees and broths (usually carrot and courgette) a tad more interesting with a swig of olive oil and a sprinkling of parmesan, introducing meats like chicken from six months onwards.


Chinese babies are weaned on congee, a watery rice porridge. Congee is a great base to mix with other foods, such as puréed pulses and vegetables. Chinese mums often include ginger and garlic.

Interestingly, the manner of nourishing the baby can also be also different. For instance, in Japan, the adult generally puts the baby on their lap, back to them, and accompanies him/her in his gesture to bring the food to his/her mouth. There is no face to face relationship between the adult and the baby, as we can observe in Europe.

For Hindu babies, their first taste of solid food is taken in the lovely Annaprashan ceremony. The baby is dressed in ceremonial clothes, blessed by a priest, and takes a first bite of rice pudding. I think it should be like that in every country: the first feast is to be celebrated.


African mums usually breastfeedtheir babiesfor between 18 and 24 months, and start toweanaround 6 months. Weaning starts with matooke (cooked banana), cow’s milk and maize porridge, moves onto starchy vegetables, like potatoes, sweet potatoes and cassava, progressing to protein-rich sauces that include fish and haricot beans

In Nigeria, where the cult of the chubby baby is very popular, the mother holds her child's nose with one hand and carries the food to her mouth to allow her/him to swallow large quantities.

In Mali, like in a lot of other African countries, adults let the baby feed itself alone from the very beginning, thus choosing the type of food as well as its quantity.

In Morocco, from 8 months old, babies will be exposed to all types of nuts and dried fruits to accustom them to those widely used ingredients of the local cuisine.


In Peru, like in Mali, the child is left very early on in complete autonomy regarding his feeding. However the first tastes of solid food a baby gets is granadilla (the pulp without the seeds), a type of sweet passion fruit that’s a good source of fibre and essential minerals, including phosphorus, iron and calcium.

Argentina is a fervent adept of meat, and this from birth. Indeed it is customary to give small pieces of bread soaked in meat juice to infants.

Mexicans wean their babies off breastmilk with soups, tortillas, avocado, beans and fruits like papaya. They are also known to add sprinklings of chilli powder and a splash of lime onto fruit as a tasty snack.


Traditionally, Alaskan Inuit mums breastfed their babies for 3-4 years, although many follow modern American weaning and bottle-feeding practices that has shortened this period considerably. Inuit babies can, however, look forward to being weaned on seaweed, nut-tuk (seal blubber) and caribou meat.


In general, the introduction of solids never seems to be to the detriment of breastfeeding or formula during the child's first year. However, it is interesting to note how much guidelines and habits vary from one country to another. It simply reflects culturally different dietary habits, that affect the food given to the children as well as the local availability of food. This shows that there is not one single good method, but that we must find the one adapted to our way of life. This also shows the capacity of babies and children to eat a wide variety of different food, thus annihilating the belief that they only like "bland and beige” food. In Europe, we have a plethora of different food available to us and we know that a varied diet is the key to healthy eating habits. Let’s embrace it from weaning onwards and gift our little ones with the extraordinary festival of flavours, colours and textures that different food provide.

Created On  10 May 2019 8:10  -  Permalink


When a Man is small - MFK Fisher - Serve it Forth - 1937

When a man is small, he loves and hates food with a ferocity which soon dims. At six years old his very bowels will heave when such a dish as creamed carrots or cold tapioca appears before him. His throat will close, and spots of nausea and rage swim in his vision. It is hard, later, to remember why, but as the same time there is no pose in his disgust. He cannot eat; he says, «To hell with it!»
In the same way, some foods are utterly delicious, and he thinks of them and tastes them with a sensuous passion which too often disappears completely with the years. 
Perhaps there are little chocolate cookies as a special treat, two apiece. He eats his, all two, with an intensive but delicate avidity. His small sister Judy puts one of hers in the pocket, the smug thing. But Aunt Gwen takes a bite from each of her cookies and gives what is left of one to Judy, what is left of the other to him. She is quite calm about it.
He looks at her with a dreadful wonder. How can she bear to do it? He could not, could not have given more than a crumb of his cookie to anyone. Perhaps even a crumb would be too big. Aunt Gwen is wonderful; she is brave and superhuman. He feels a little dizzy as he looks at the bitten cookie in his hand. How could she do it?
By the time a man is ten or twelve he has forgotten most of his young passions. He is hungry and he want to be full. It is very simple. A few more years and he is at his life's peak of energy. His body is electric with young muscle, young blood, a new-found manhood, an awakening mind. Strangely enough, it is now that he whips himself up to greater speed. He drinks strong raw spirits and countless cups of coffee, hot and black. He devours such mild aphrodisiacs as chili, tamales, and rare beef drowned in bottled sauces. He pours, salt and pepper over everything except desserts.
At this age, eighteen or nineteen, gastronomic perceptions are non-existent, or at the most naïve. (…) During those years, many innocent experiments with food, mixed though they may be with snobbishness and «showing off», that indicate what king of older person a young one may become. And he had two choices, the two oft-quoted oft-abused alternatives of eating to live and of living to eat.
Any normal man must nourish his body by means of food put into it through the mouth. This process takes time, quite apart from the lengthy preparations and digestions that accompany it.
Between the ages of twenty and fifty, John Doe spends some twenty thousand hours chewing and swallowing food, more than eight hundred days and nights of steady eating. The mere contemplation of this fact is upsetting enough!
To some men it is actively revolting. They devise means of accomplishing the required nourishments of their bodies by pills of condensed victuals and easily swallowed draughts which equal, they are told, the food value of a beefsteak or a vegetable stew.
To others, the stunning realisation of how much time is needed to feed themselves is accepted more philosophically. They agree with La Rochefoucauld's aphorism: To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.
Critics of the resulting scheme of life are easily led to accuse its practicants of substituting a less pleasant word for «intelligent». So, indeed, do many of us. We sink too easily into stupid and over-fed sensuality, our bodies thickening even more quickly than our minds. We sharpen one sense at the cost of losing many others, and call ourselves epicures, forgetting that Epicurus himself employed the same adjective as La Rochefoucauld when he advocated our finding an agreeable use for our faculties in «the intelligent enjoyment of the pleasures of the table».
Whichever school a man may adhere to, the protestant or the philosophical, he continues to eat through the middle years of life with increasing interest. He grows more conscious of his body as it becomes less tolerant.
No longer can he dine heavily at untoward hours, filing his stomach with the adolescent excitations of hot sauces and stodgy pastries - no longer, that is, with impunity. No more can he say with any truth: «Oh, I can eat anything. I can drink without showing it. I am made of iron».
He is confused by strange aches and rumblings, and shudders at the thought of being forced by old age to return to the pap and pabulum of his infancy.
Most of us, unhappily, shudder and ache and rumble as secretly as possible, seeming to feel disgrace in what is but one of the common phenomena of age: the general slowing of all physical processes. For years we hide or ignore our bodily protests and hasten our own dyspeptic doom by trying to eat and drink as we did when we were twenty.
When we are past fifty, especially if we have kept up this pathetic pose of youth-at-table, we begin to grow fat. It is then that even the blindest of us should beware. Unfortunately, however, we are too used to seeing other people turn heavy in their fifties: we accept paunches and double chins as a necessary part of growing old.
Instead, we should realise this final protest of an overstuffed system and ease our body's last years by lightening its burden. We should eat sparingly.
(…) For many old people, eating is the only pleasure left, as where the «endless dishes» and «unceasing cups of wine» to the aged Ulysses. And between gobbling down an indistinguishable mess of heavy meat and bread, or savouring a delicate broiled trout or an aspic full of subtle vegetable flavours, how few of us would choose the distressful insomnia that follows the first for the light easy rest of the second?
But men are thoughtless, and they are habit-followers. They have eaten meat and starches for years: they see no reason for stopping when they are old even if they think enough to realise that every function of their bodies is carried on more slowly and with more effort than ever before.
They go on whipping up their blood with «well-done» roasts, which travel haltingly through the system to the final colonic decay that makes one of the great foes of senescence - constipation. They are floated in their coffins on a river of «stimulating» infusion of beef-extract and iron, usually fed to them surreptitiously by well-meaning daughters. They plump out their poor sagging paunches for years with the puffed richness of such «nourishing» desserts as the typical English sweet which a friend described to me: «cake soaked with bad port, smothered in boiled custard stained a purple-brown with blackberry juice, which is in turn top-layered with warm ill-beaten white of egg tinted fuchsia pink, the whole garnished with small dirty-brown buttons of granite that are reported by us hardier Britons to be macaroons. This particular foul concoction is called "Queen of Puddings!”. No wonder old people are dubbed «quaintly crabbed and testy» by sentimental novelists, and «plain hell to live with» by their less idealistic offspring!
But we must grow old, and we must eat. It seems far from unreasonable, once these facts are accepted, for a man to set himself the pleasant task of educating his palate so that he can do the former not grudgingly and in spite of the latter, but easily and agreeably because of it.
Talleyrand said that two things are essential in life: to give good dinners and to keep on fair terms with women. As the years pass and fires cool, it can become unimportant to stay always on fair terms either with women or one's fellows, but a wide and sensitive appreciation of fine flavours can still abide with us, to warm our hearts.

Created On  3 Mar 2019 17:49  -  Permalink


1st of January: today we have decided with my other half to go vegan with the rest of my family. Everyone is talking about it so it must be good for all of us. A good way to detox after the indulgences of the festive period (or the last 12 months) and set our lovely 3 children with healthy eating habits.

8th of January: A week in and we are starting to doubt that the vegan thing is really for us. The kids are screaming for a good eggy frittata, a chicken curry and some fish fingers. My partner could kill for a 400oz steak with pepper sauce (the one with cream). And I find myself secretly craving beef jerkies which I have never eaten before in my entire life. I did not even know they existed and they now seem to follow me in every aisle of the supermarket, every street corner shop, even making sneaky appearances in my dreams.

15th of January: we are all about to strangle each other, grieving for our meaty loss, seriously feeling down and realising that we have no flipping clue what we are doing. Above all me. Time to ditch the resolution then… we lasted almost three whole weeks though both partner and children hate me and my "healthy” resolutions at equal measure!

Let’s quit and go back to our dreadfully unhealthy habits and try again next year. Maybe!

Well not so fast! You don’t have to go vegan, paleoan, high protein-an, low carb-an (so you should definitely go low carbon!), or godknowswhatelse-an to make every member of your family healthy. Nor do you have to eat quinoa, chia seeds, acai berries or baobab and nuke the bank account in the process.

The solution is pretty simple: Eat every food, not too much, mainly plants and refrain on sugar. Now the question: how do I do that with my kids? Well here are just a few tricks of the trade (as a mother and a chef):

1- For vegetables, make soup the start of every dinner. It does not have to be fancy or complicated. At least 3 vegetables – always add onion and garlic – never miss a green leafy one - some low salt vegetable stock if you wish. Blend it all – serve with bits of toast covered in cream cheese if they like. We call them the "boats” in France and the aim is to spread them in plate full of soup and go and get one with each mouthful.

2- Increase their daily fruit intake with blended compotes of any combination of fruits they like. Presented as such it looks a bit more like a pudding than just a fruit and you can also use it in yogurt, porridge, with oatbran, etc. Very versatile. Everyone will like it. You can choose some from our range also with no added sugar or anything else whatsoever.

3- Switch over the proportion of veg to meat in any recipe your family love or you want to try out. Think of it as such: ¼ of meat to ¾ of veg to balance it all out. Ditch any meal that does not call for any vegetable at all.

4- Swap any white pasta, rice and bread to brown. Those still have the bran and germ in, which is where all the vitamins and nutrients are. With the white stuff, you are just left with sugar really. Now to avoid a general uprising at the dinner table, I would advise to do it gradually by mixing white and brown together, gradually increasing the brown proportion until it fully takes over.

With those four little tricks, you are in good track to improve the healthy habits of every member of your family. And they might even notice the benefits themselves. And for once you might be able to say that you succeeded at keeping your New Year resolution. Well almost! Just adding a bit of meat products to an otherwise vegan diet!

Created On  17 Jan 2019 16:00  -  Permalink


When one starts his/her journey as a parent, the mission is literally Herculean.

It starts from the moment we learn that a little heart is beating alongside ours in the comfort of our tummy. From then on, our most pressing priority becomes the provision of the best, and only the very best for that little one.

And where do we usually turn first: FOOD!.

What should we eat to provide all that the embryo needs to develop harmoniously during the 40 weeks or so of gestation?

When that baby is born, what is our main source of endless worry? The quality of his/her feeds becomes almost an obsession. How many times? How much? How long? How often?

When we transition to solid food, the task turns out to be as fundamental and worrisome. Whichever route we choose to diversify their diet, our focus remains very much on the well-being of our little ones and the teaching of healthy eating habits.

However, at the same times, we are submerged by a plethora of information and misinformation, events and non-events which make this task a constantly changing labyrinth. It is like a million alarm bells ringing all at once, thousands of different (and sometimes conflicting) trends coming and going depending on which way the wind blows, hundreds of imperatives we must abide by, be it our budget or the environment, the locally produced or the fair trade imported, the responsibly farmed or the organic, the corn fed or the free range, clean or lean, 3-a-day or 5-a -ay, juicing or smoothing, etc.

At the same time, we may also face one of the most thankless task in our parenting journey: when our little ones decide to make food time a power struggle or are not very much inclined to let anything strange looking, new and/or particularly green pass through their adorable little lips!

To eat well is certainly a major part of what every parent teaches their children. This teaching is highly personal and is very much linked to who we are, what we like, and eventually what we aspire to.

Transmitting good food habits to our children is something we do everyday, so we have no way to escape it! It is a long and slow process that requires ladles full of patience, a dash of authority and stockpots of love.

Through experience, research, passion, and the call on experts, I aim to provide in this blog a lot (if not most) of the elements necessary to what I see as a fundamental life skill: the education of taste of your children, their gustatory awakening., their culinary journey towards lifelong healthy eating habits!

Created On  19 Dec 2018 18:18  -  Permalink


We all wish to see how children grow in full health,  at the maximum of their capacity both physically and psychologically. At the same time, we all wish to see them grow into happy, resilient and successful individuals.

Food is very much at the heart of such an harmonious upbringing. As Hippocrate famously said: Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.

To grow and become a true omnivore, children must learn to eat everything. It is therefore up to their parents to drive this learning process. They must decide on the best approach that would suit their own family routine and heritage. They must somewhat adapt to the needs and preferences of their children. They must anticipate and follow the many milestone that every child goes through in their development: from conception to teenage years.  That sounds daunting, isn't it? Rest assured: with a bit of knowledge, a lot of common sense and a great dose of love for good, honest, natural food, it is a lot more intuitive than it seems.

The babies of Humans have this singularity to be born without being completely finished. If left on their own in the first few months of their life, they would not be able to survive. During this initial period that covers 1 second to 24 months, their parents or carers must give them quality food to help them finish their initial growth until they become more independent.  From two years of age and all the way to teenage years, starts the long and mine-filled route to total independence. And it may sometimes very much feel like a mine-filled... I mean for us parents, who more often than not start practicing the difficult art of treading on eggs while turning into the best warfare strategist around! 

During that period, children tend to appreciate food that they know. They don't eat something because it is good for them but because they like it. And this is why they often tend to prefer sweet flavours and filling sensations. After all, when you see the energy a toddler or young child spend going from A to B via running to Y, T and U, jumping on Z, P and V, hopping on M, N and I, and scooting to X, O and L, no wonder they will not favour steamed broccoli or carrots over carb rich Mac&Cheese. In all honesty, who would after such strenuous exercise? Unless one wants to lose weight, fast.  
Their instinct will drive them towards quick energy, high sweet content, fully satiating food. Our job is to make sure that they get just that. But in the best form possible, i.e. with all the nutrients and vitamins that are needed for their optimal development. Because otherwise it would be just fat and sugar, which si not the best of start in life. We all know it for having done it many a time and it is no different for children: it is thoroughly satisfying on the moment, giving you a spike of energy like never before. But very quickly you go back to feeling sluggish and tired, needing another "quick" fix to keep going.

Every human being has the capacity to like every food but for this he/she must be taught through opening the gates of their 5 senses: taste, sight, smell, touch and sound. 
To eat must always remain a pleasure and we must invite our little ones to appreciate both simple dishes and complex flavours. This relationship with food starts in the womb and continues throughout our entire life. The very first steps of breastfeeding or bottle-feeding followed by the ever so important phase of weaning or "diversification" make up its very foundation.  We learn how to eat in the same way as we learn everything else. And like for everything we learn, we must never give up.  I bet you would not give up on your child learning how to read or write or count... so why do so in learning how to eat! It is the very foundation of their health, present and future.

Created On  8 Nov 2018 10:00  -  Permalink



Have you ever found yourself in front of a whole pumpkin and wonder how on earth you will tackle the beast? Besides the Jack O’ Lantern cherished by Halloween adepts, its flesh is so sweet, velvety and comforting that everyone should try to get a taste of it. The question is: How?

In high spirit and using the sharpest knife you have, you may proceed with attacking the monster, in awe of the thickness of its skin. After a fair amount of ripping, sliding, gashing, hammering, and thrashing (not forgetting any potential swearing) you finally end up with a few slaughtered pieces that now need be skinned (good luck with that!) and the inside gutted!  

Well I have the perfectly neat solution for you. Almost as satisfying as peeling a boiled egg (some of my fellow control freak will totally understand what I mean! Pure bliss!).

Just stick the whole thing in the oven at 200C. Just like that. The whole thing without any other preparation than potentially washing the skin a little to remove some dirt stuck to it. And leave it in there for roughly one hour. Until you can slide a butter knife all the way through. And you read me well: a butter knife! Indeed, the skin turns into paper and you then just need to peel it off, scoop the inside out and let your imagination run wild with this very autumnal crop.

If you need a few pointers to tickle your imagination, we have come up with a few ideas below.

Simple Puree: that can be sweet or savoury and flavoured according to your little one taste. Start "au naturel” with nothing but the flesh. Add butter or olive oil and swap around as each adds different depths of flavour. Spice it up with some ginger, some nutmeg or even cumin. Sweeten it up with maple syrup or honey and then spread it on pieces of bagel, this might make everyone forget about cream cheese.

Stir a few spoon full into a warm bowl of oatmeal, and they’ll get their seasonal pumpkin fix first thing in the morning.

Make a milkshake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, milk and a sprinkle of cinnamon…what a treat!

Turn it into a pasta sauce by mixing equal quantity of ricotta with salt and pepper.

Smoothie It up with spices, flaxseed and chia seeds to max out in Omega 3, beta-carotene and potassium.

Top your shepherd’s pie. Health up your Mac & Cheese. Colour your hummus.

Now for the most creative of you, why don’t you try yourself at making beautiful necklaces out of the seeds. Grab a needle and get creative with colours, patterns and lengths. This is one necklace that’s sure to grab attention. (via My Little Fabric)

Otherwise you can just roast them without burning the crap out of them (which I have done many times so see how best to do it here Ohsheglows)

Pumpkin will make a puree (with chestnut and sage), a dessert (with maple syrup and apples) as well as a supporting role in our Salmon Mac & Cheese. Our new Autumn Menu is about to be unveiled.

Created On  18 Oct 2018 22:04  -  Permalink