Food, faith and family: how we feed our son his rich mixed heritage

My parents are Bangladeshi Muslims. My husband is an Ashkenazi Jew. And our baby son? He’ll eat chicken soup and chicken curry…

Even before my son was born, I used to imagine all the things I would feed my future children. They would come home from school, backpacks hanging off their shoulders and tummies rumbling, and ask what was for dinner. I pictured them round-faced and cheerful, tucking into the same meals that I grew up with. I would heap their plates with hot white rice, garlicky dal garnished with coriander, and spicy fried fish. They would eat with their hands of course, like any well brought-up child of Bangladeshi origin, deftly picking out the tiny bones, and squeezing wedges of lime over the crispy fish skin, which they would save until last as a treat, licking the tangy juice off their fingers.

I already knew the satisfaction I would get from watching them eat; and knew too, the importance of warding off chok – the Evil Eye – by saying “Masha’Allah”, thanking God for their hearty appetites and chubby legs. I would teach them to say “Bismillah” before every meal and “Shukr alhamdulillah” when they finished, making sure they were aware of the gift of nourishment they had received.

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