I woke up this morning thinking, ‘I’ll bet Nigella Lawson’s eyebrows are dark like that so that her face is more palatable to the audience in Japan.’ Never mind the use of palatable to describe the face of someone who cooks food for people who will never eat it, I probably really meant identifiable and the rest of this idea is pretty spot on. The very dark, very neat, marginally artificial brow is common on the faces of chic Japanese women, and it makes sense that a show with a multinational audience would create commonalities with as many of those audiences as possible.
This idea was probably my mind farting during the nighttime digestion of Saturday’s main event: a Meet-The-Babies party with six families from our German antenatal class! There were 20 Germans in the flat Saturday afternoon (if you count Frida,) and only two Americans (if you count Frida.) I was a bit worried about the usual stuff before the party (is there enough food, is my child developmentally appropriate compared to her peers, did I remember to put a fresh hand towel in the bathroom, is my child developmentally ahead of her peers, do we have enough chairs, is my child developmentally ahead of her peers to the point of freakishness, etc.) Mind you, these worries were unfounded. There was tons of food, the hand towels started clean but had a difficult time standing up to a party of 14 adults who did a lot of diaper changes, and we didn’t have enough chairs but people were happy to take turns. Oh, and the baby is advanced in some areas and slower in others, just like every other baby in the room. What struck me was the lack of competitiveness from the other parents. When commenting on the babies, the parents would routinely say that they were ‘sweet’, which is universally true of babies, while I heard myself praising one for being especially tall, one for their big smile, another for their very cute sweater. I was saying what made each baby special and unique; the Germans seemed to take that for granted and to recognize that there were many more commonalities than differences. I was surprised by how ingrained my approach was: I’ve spent much more time with mathematics than with babies so far, but that doesn’t stop me from calling lots of babies the statistically-impossible ‘cutest’.
Things that were different enough to make them be surprises:
-the layers that the other babies wear. Onesies, shirt, stockings, pants, sweater, socks, shoes, all-in-one overcoat, with a blanket on top. Granted, it is winter and they are walking home, but our little orchid was in just her shirt and diaper and she was warm.
-everyone breastfeeds, but no one else uses cloth diapers. See above re:competitiveness; I didn’t bring this up with any of the other parents because my love for the cloth diaper system is real but my description of it sounds awfully smug.
-everyone is very comfortable with the breastfeeding, and the moms feed the babies whenever and wherever they’re hungry. At one point I realized that the conversation that two of the dads were having about babies’ feeding behavior had turned into a play-by-play, ‘See? Frida’s searching, searching, searching, and then BLAM she’s got it.’ The ‘it’, of course, was my nipple, and the dads were not Frida’s. They were simply commenting on life’s little wonders, and could care less whose milk Frida was looking for. I tried to play it cool, but my milk supply gathered her skirts and fled. Once again, life in Europe shows me that I’m a bit of a prude.
But not too much of a prude to cook SPRINGBOK! The freezer was getting overrun with pregnancy-craving-driven impulse buys, including fish sticks, a kilo of kale, some shrimp filling for dumplings, and a jar of lemon curd that I keep mistaking for broccoli soup, so I defrosted the Springbok steaks that I’d sequestered sometime in the second trimester. Somewhat surprisingly, they were delicious! Very much like elk in flavor, and very tender. I sautéed them in a stupidly hot pan and served them with chimichurri sauce. Now I feel a bit like the Cat in the Hat because although there is a bit more room in the freezer, there are something like 38 servings of chimichurri sauce in the fridge.
Maybe it freezes well?