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My Baby's Having A Baby

(by Barbara Ballinger)

As my older daughter neared the end of her first pregnancy, I began to think about what I might cook to feed her and her husband when they brought the baby home—to nourish them and friends who would be visiting to greet their new arrival (vaccinated and masked, of course).

Food plays a starring role at gatherings in both of their heritages—one Jewish and one Irish Catholic. And my daughter has become more sentimental about our family food traditions, even those she didn’t like as a child. But her taste buds and culinary standards have advanced beyond my kitchen. She and her husband are Anthony Bourdain groupies who watched his globe-trotting-and-eating adventures and were inspired to travel as much as time and funds permitted—from South America to Iceland, pushing the boundaries of the foods they’d grown up with (Scandinavia has smoked salmon but also venison tartare).

That was no surprise since she’s always been more adventuresome about almost anything from a tender age. I may have provided some inspiration, but she grabbed the reins and went beyond my skills. After watching me entertain, she shooed me out of the kitchen one day, baked a two-layer lemon cake all on her own from a challenging cookbook called The Cake Bible, and “opened” a cake baking business in junior high school to earn spending money since she didn’t like babysitting. (I funded the initial ingredients.) Through a business contact, I was able to help her get an interview for a summer internship with Claudia Fleming, the pastry chef at Gramercy Tavern, one of New York’s premiere restaurants. I don’t