In icy Alaska, Inuit babies traditionally live in one of the world’s most inhospitable locations. The reason they thrive in the extreme cold is a nourishing diet of seal blubber, known as nuk-tuk, and seaweed, as well as roots, berries and vegetables when they are available.
The food most often offered to babies in a Western diet is fortified rice cereal, a far cry from fatty nuk-tuk. While rice cereal is considered ideal for babies because of its blandness, baby food doesn’t always have to be flavourless. “From our first year of life, human tastes are astonishingly diverse,” writes Bee Wilson in her book First Bite: How We Learn To Eat. With no intrinsic knowledge of what makes good and bad food, Wilson says that as babies we learn from our parents how food should taste, whether it’s premasticated rice in Laos, bone marrow in Tanzania, or pureed pumpkin in Australia. As the following six national first foods show, what constitutes nourishing food for babies varies widely across cultures.
Image by Rosemary Gilliat, Library and Archives Canada (Flickr)