How a happy foodie stole my heart

Before I ever met J, in fact long before I knew for sure that I would be his mother, I had watched him eat.

An epic 40 minute video introduced me to my future son. It followed him while he chatted with a family friend, did his homework, and blew bubbles in his foster carers’ garden. But I sat riveted as J made his way through a huge bowl of pasta and a plate of garlic bread. It was an early indication of his voracious appetite, and I knew then for certain that he was the child for me. Here’s a short excerpt, filmed about six months before I met him for the first time…


I am linking this post up to the Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO week 59, on the theme of  recipes that are important to us. Knowing how much he loved it, Colleen, J’s foster carer of four years, passed on her recipe for Cheesy Pasta, the same pasta dish that J was eating the day he was filmed in preparation for being adopted. It still has pride of place in our family recipe book. Here it is:

Cheesy pasta

I have written elsewhere about our foodie adventures in Morocco (snail soup anyone?) and just this week about comfort food in times of sickness.



  1. Linda Dawson Reid · · Reply

    I still treasure the story of what J said at the first review. When asked by the reviewing officer what he liked best about living with you, he said he liked your cooking. When she asked what he liked best, he said ‘frittata’ (with your accent!). This continues to delight me and something I will never forget. Foodie in the making indeed.

    1. And yes, it felt as if I didn’t stop cooking for months! Funnily enough, when I was planning this piece, I originally conceived it as a sort of Inheritance Tracks of our favourite foods – do you ever listen to that on Radio 4 on Saturday mornings? The contributor talks about and plays three tracks, one that was given to them by their parents, one that is important to them now, and one that they would pass on to their children. It all got a bit over ambitious, but not before I had asked J what his Inheritance Dishes would be. I was very touched and like you delighted that the one he would give to his child was FRITTATA! X x

  2. An Inheritance Tracks of favourite foods – what a great idea! Love this post x

    1. Yes, I thnk mine might be Pavlova (from my parents – recipe from an Australian cousin of my father’s, happy memories of family parties), Onion Soup (a regular at weekends here, melted gruyere and toast on top, yum), and for J to take with him a favourite Chinese braised duck dish (even though he wants frittata). What would you choose Suddenly?!

  3. That’s interesting. While I was never fostered, I did live with a number of different families in my childhood, and some of my abiding memories are of food. I can identify dishes with families. And all this time I just thought it was because my mum was the worst cook on earth.

    1. Living with different families must have been quite unsettling! I suppose children’s sense of security is strongly bound up with food and its availability, and maybe that’s why you remember it so clearly, because of its associations?
      And probably I was thinking on a subconscious level that if J could eat so heartily, he might be able to connect with me with his heart too… That’s what we hope when we adopt, but it’s never certain.
      So many unknowns in life! Thanks for commenting Gwendoline, I always enjoy your blog.

      1. I have been thinking about this all day, I could write a book about it – wait a minute! I just did! Let’s hope it gets published one day.
        Seriously though, moving around required flexibility and adapting to “different strokes for different folks”, but it was not traumatic. I think the major reasons were (a) it was (mostly) always family and friends that I knew prior (b) only one relocation required me to change school (c) I didn’t have a fabulous home-life so there was nothing to get homesick about (d) it was always temporary while my mother was in hospital so I knew I was going home again and (e) they fed me fabulous food such as bacon and eggs, savoury mince, irish stew with barley and parsley, pea and ham soup, – shall I go on?
        As for the yearnings of adoption, I can speak from the perspective of a mother who surrendered her toddler. We want the adoptive parents to do/be and provide everything that we cannot – love, emotional and financial stability, education, nurturing, role modelling of a functional family life, give the child a hope for a future that enables them to be self-confident and “succeed” in life in whatever way they want, whether that is being a truck driver or a brain surgeon. In other words, that they develop an innate sense of self that is not encumbered by the circumstances of their birth or the deficiency of the family they came from. That last part hasn’t quite expressed what I am trying to say, but the best I can do on the run . . .
        I wanted my book to be an homage to those that stepped into my life to pick up the pieces and help me be the person I am today. On the path to making it “commercial”, the focus has narrowed to the theme of loss of motherhood, both of my mother and my child – but all those persons are still mentioned in an important way.
        Good luck in your journey! It is not something you have taken on lightly. I admire you for that.

        1. I hadn’t realised all this about you Gwendoline. There’s a lot of complexity there but you are clearly amazingly resilient and the pea soup and Irish stew have done their bit too by the sounds of it 🙂 I do hope you find a publisher. I met my son’s birth mother once and I asked her what she wanted for him in the future. She said just to live a normal life (hers has not been ordinary either), and be happy. Not so different from what you want(ed) for your child, or from what I want for J. We can provide the stepping stones but in the end the young person must take the steps, as it seems you have done x

          1. I agree, Have you ever seen the poster “my mother made me a homosexual” and under that is scrawled – “if I buy the wool, will she make me one too?” Parents supply the art board, it is up to us to decide what to do draw on it. Or, as a dear friend says – “we can only play the hand we’re dealt.” I’ve done okay, and I can only hope that if I get published that it will give a voice to others in a similar situation. I have to get used to talking openly about it, as it is a very personal story. Thanks for listening! BTW Gwen is fine, the ‘Gwendoline’ is me poking fun at myself 🙂

  4. mumdrah · · Reply

    I love it that J’s foster carer wrote out the recipe for his favourite dinner and gave it to you so you could continue the tradition. Made me cry!

    1. Ahh, don’t cry 😦
      You couldn’t buy Campbell’s condensed soups for years so we got out of the habit of making this exact recipe. But I must give it another go

  5. […] Like many boys of his age, he dreamed of flying to the moon, ate pasta and apples, and liked to drink ‘gootz’. You can see a video made a few months earlier of him eating his beloved pasta here. […]

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