I recently read about a Bristol cafe that had incensed mums by charging corkage when they cracked open ready-made baby foods. On reading further, however, I found that said cafe was serving its own, freshly prepared organic baby food at £1.40 a portion. Now, given a choice between shop-bought processed food and home made fare, I’d happily choose the latter every time, and I wish more establishments would follow this example. After all, they are preparing food in their kitchens; how hard can it be to whizz up a puree?
Babies are not often catered for on restaurant menus, which can make eating out difficult. My toddler is a wee girl; at 16 months, she weighs 20lbs (25th centile) and measures 73cm (2nd centile). I do hope this won’t mean she’ll be short and dumpy, but I won’t put her on the Atkins diet just yet. And I won’t be ordering from the kids’ menu either, as these are for strapping youngsters aged two and over, and most of it will get sent back to the kitchen bin. And I’m not always organised enough to have a Cow & Gate toddler meal immediately to hand.
I wrote about my cooking exploits a while back. When Daughter was a tiny baby, she slept a lot, so I ordered a veg box and came over all Delia. This now feels like a long time ago. Now I’m back at work, and managing a harum-scarum toddler in my time off, I’ve slipped back into ready meal/fish and chips territory, for myself and OH at least. It helps that we live next door to his parents, who are great cooks and are more than happy to feed extra mouths. Occasionally, after baby bedtime I delve into the River Cottage Baby and Toddler cook book – the spag bol is a good stand-by, and the banana and sultana bread made a spectacular debut this week. But that depends on how tired I am, and what’s on telly.
This all came up at a recent Cornwall Today meeting with my contacts at St Austell Brewery. Over a lovely lunch at The Wig and Pen in Truro (highly recommended – they even make their own crisps), we found ourselves discussing family friendly establishments. They are rightly proud of The Fort in Newquay, which has a great reputation in the town – another contact told me yesterday that her family practically lives there, thanks to its various play areas, harbour views and great menu.
The Fort landlords are more than happy for mums to take in their own baby food, and even provide microwaves so they can heat it up. That’s admirable; but, I asked, swapping my editor’s hat for my mummy version, had they considered putting baby options on the menu? A couple of days ago, I got an email – the suggestion had been passed on, considered, and they’ve done exactly that.
As of today, The Fort Inn will offer warmed pureed fresh vegetables at £1 per portion, on its specials board. What’s more, the Fort is currently running a kids eat free offer (Monday to Friday – one free child’s meal for each adult meal purchased) so the baby food offer applies for that.
Quite frankly, I’m cockahoop that something I proposed has been taken up. It’s only a small thing, but it makes me feel that I have a voice, and I’m telling anyone who’ll listen. It’s a victory for all mums who, like me, aren’t paragons of domesticity and organisation, and who like eating out with small people from time to time. And it’s a victory for the small people too – why should they be an afterthought?
So I’d better get down there and put my money where my mouth is. And so should you – maybe I’ll see you there? Watch this space for more.