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Nicholas Day on Babies, Dinner, and Haiku - plus a Giveaway!

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We're sitting down with our favorite writers and cooks to talk about their upcoming cookbooks, their best food memories, and just about anything else.

Today: We chat with Nicholas Day, beloved Food52 columnist and author of the new Baby Meets World, about all things babies: what they know, what they eat, and what they say, in haiku form. Read on for a few fun facts and a good laugh, and enter to win one of ten copies of Nicholas's book!

Book Nicholas 

Every other week, we try to stifle our laughter while reading Nicholas Day's Dinner vs. Child column, where he discusses cooking for, with, and (occasionally) on top of his children. In his new book, Baby Meets World, Nicholas sheds new light on infancy and those mysterious little creatures we call babies. This is no parenting manual, though -- it's full of anecdotes and fun facts that will delight and surprise anyone who has a baby, knows a baby, or once was a baby. 

In an effort to share this book with our community -- and as an excuse to read more of his writing -- we bugged Nicholas for a few more baby-related facts, some dinner ideas, and some poetry. We're also offering ten copies of Baby Meets World to our readers -- read on for details!

Sometimes Merrill's baby Clara comes to visit the test kitchen, and we really like playing with her, but the idea of having our own babies scares us. What sage advice would you give to people who tend to be freaked out by babies and their mysterious ways?
First of all, they bite. So approach with caution. Second, not only do babies have no idea what they’re doing -- they also have no idea that you don’t know what you’re doing. This is your great saving grace: they are oblivious to your ineptitude. But they are not oblivious in any way to your love. Third, you’re not wrong to be scared: even after you have a baby, the idea of having a baby is scary. I’m terrified just thinking about it. Fourth, you know how some high schools used to have teenagers carry around eggs and pretend like the eggs were their babies? Don’t fall for that: real babies are nothing like eggs. I’m still pretty pissed about that.

Homemade baby food: yay or nay?
I personally like adult food. I’m confused by all the grown-ups who make their own baby food. Don’t they find the portions too small?

What are your go-to recipes for nights when you have, say, a crying baby on your hands and not much time to chop or stir? 
We follow the model of some hunter-gatherer societies in which the babies are allowed to handle machetes after the first year. So that’s some help with chopping alliums. 

Honestly, our go-to, sky-is-falling recipe is whatever’s in the freezer. Also: eggs on fried rice, eggs on lentils, eggs on tortillas. Not the egg you’re pretending is a baby, though. Use a different egg. (Also, cereal. Here’s my recipe: fill bowl, add half-cup milk, gently stir. Then precipitously lower head into bowl.)


Hungry? See Nicholas' six favorite ways to eat eggs for dinner.

We're looking for some good cocktail party ice breakers. What's the coolest fact about babies you learned while researching this book?
So there’s the story about how preemies in incubators were displayed on carnival midways. There’s the thing about goats being used for wet nurses. There’s the way that some societies used to salt their newborns, like prosciutto, before swaddling. 

But that’s just the wild and wacky side of things. My favorite parts of the book are about the incredible capacities babies have even as newborns, even when they do nothing but yell at you and drool on their onesies and roll their eyes back into their heads. Despite all appearances, they are marvelous beings -- so awake to the world, so creative, so astonishingly resilient. In Baby Meets World, I try to get us to see infancy anew, to see it not as a predictable sequence of events but as a cabinet of wonders. I also try to let some air into the room. Childrearing in America can be claustrophobic: there are so many anxieties and neuroses and right ways that a parent can hardly catch a full breath. This book looks around the world and back in time to make it clear that there’s never been a right way. I don’t offer any advice. I offer some skepticism, some wonder, some perspective. 

I’m a little worried about how long people are going to talk to you at this cocktail party, though. Do they look like they’re slowly edging away?

In closing, please write a haiku about babies.
Not to be a total cliché of a proud parent, but here I’m going to quote a haiku that Mila, our 10-month-old, wrote just this morning:

PhPhPhPh BA!

Want to win a copy of Baby Meets World? (Trust us, you do.) Tell us in the comments: did you ever have to care for an egg and pretend it was a baby? Did you break it? Did it start to smell after a week of successful egg-rearing? We want to hear everything. Ten winners will be chosen at random this Friday!

Tags: Lists, 5 Questions, Parenting