This summer is so different from last. Instead of experiencing the first trimester of pregnancy, I have an easily-delighted, curious, bubbly five-month old.
Last summer, the heat combined with my pregnancy made me fairly miserable whereas this year, even though S. swears it’s as hot as last year, I’m soaking up the warmth of the sun, relishing all of July’s Julyishness. But the most marked difference this summer is my palate. When I think about last summer I mostly remember a time of nausea so great it actually gives me pause when considering having another child (well, that and how incredibly painful childbirth is – I kept telling the doctor I knew it would hurt but I had no idea it would be as bad as it actually was). My morning sickness would hit at 8 a.m. no matter where I was – riding the bus into work, walking to my other office, sitting at my desk – sometimes it would lift by lunchtime but sometimes it would last all day long, not going away until those golden hours between 6:00 and 8:00 am the next morning. Coupled with the nausea were food aversions so strong I am convinced even now I will never be able to eat a piece of rotisserie chicken again (I have a hard time even thinking about its existence). I knew which bus stops had trash cans in case I needed to throw up – and one memorable time I actually had to stop while walking to work and puke in one of the trash cans along the street. I desperately wanted to tell the people who passed me by that no, I was not just some hungover girl walking the walk of shame along Liberty Avenue – I was just pregnant – but I was too sick to talk.
All of this is to say when I think about the last summer, I also instantly recall the foods I ate with great, and comforting, clarity. I decided early on in the pregnancy to forsake all the foods the doctor recommended avoiding even though some of them seemed silly, but I’m a better safe than sorry sort – that list, in conjunction with my morning sickness, made for a bland and specific diet that I remember with a lot of fondness, actually – I thrived on the chocolate-banana smoothies from Starbucks, and on a couple scoops of salted caramel ice cream at night. S. traveled regularly back then and so for dinners I most often had scrambled eggs on white toast or grilled cheese sandwiches – I ate lots of small meals ( a pregnancy habit I’ve since maintained and I really do think it helps with my metabolism) – yogurts with strawberries, hunks of cheddar cheese, bowls of cheesy potato chips (not my best choice, I realize), pad thai at such a low spice level the ‘old’ Courtney would have wondered about the point of eating it at all, icy cold cans of coke (if I was nauseous) or sparkling water (if I wasn’t).
This summer my appetite, and more specifically, my taste for things, has returned with a vengeance. A lot of them I can’t yet indulge, as a breastfeeding mom – I sometimes stare anxiously at Evangeline while she eats and dream about pasta aglio olio, and heaping piles of sauerkraut, but slowly and surely her stomach is adjusting and maturing and she is able to handle a spoonful of hummus here, a clove of garlic there and when I found this recipe for 7 -Layer Greek dip, well, I was so excited I actually woke up at 5 in the morning to prepare it for a little neighborhood barbecue we hosted last week. Yes, that is exactly how excited I am to add a little garlic to my life! I won’t post the recipe here – I prefer linking recipes when I find them onlin – but let me just say this recipe was so popular my neighbor asked for the recipe and made it for a party just two days later! One of the things I found most impressive about it was how well it held up over the course of three days – I thought the cucumber and tomato might make it watery if we kept it for a couple of days but instead it just grew more and more delicious over time. I think next time I make this – and oh yes, there will be a next time – possibly even next week – I would add a light layer of artichoke leaves. I considered adding some banana peppers but for whatever reason that feels like too much.
I thoroughly recommend this dip, and bravo to the person who looked at traditional Mexican 7-layer dip (which I don’t actually like) and thought, hell, I can do this, but with hummus and cream cheese! It’s that kind of entrepreneurial spirit that makes this country great!