Worldly Baby Food, w/ Dr. Charlotte Rouchouze (Pedcast)


I am thrilled to have a guest that is new to but certainly not new to blogging- Dr. Charlotte Rouchouze, founder of the popular blog She is an expert in the history and culture that surround children’s foods around the world. Today, she and I are going to explore infant feeding practices in a few of the world’s great cultures. So, fasten your seat belts and get ready for a journey around the baby culinary world.

 Here are some notes and highlights from our conversation!

Musical Introduction

Conversation with Dr. Rouchouze


Doc Smo: Dr. Rouchouze, before we get started, can I get you to by define a few terms for us. I know that we when we did our pre-show conversation, there were terms came up that we should define for our listeners- specifically weaning, complimentary foods, and porridge, broth, and sweet versus savory foods. 


Dr. Charlotte Rouchouze:


Weaning– going off breast milk


Complimentary foods– foods that compliment breast milk

Porridge– a cooked combination of grain and liquid

Broth– a liquid in which vegetables or meats have been cooked, extracting some of the flavor and nutrients;

Savory is simply a word that distinguishes a food from being sweet.


  1. Doc Smo question: Let’s start in Japan, shall we? Can you tell us how Japanese mothers. Introduce complimentary foods please.


Dr. Charlotte Rouchouze:


Rice based porridges are common; Main ingredients of baby foods are rice, fish, broth, egg yolk (hardboiled), vegetables. Dashi broth – available at Asian stores in powder form, or can be quickly made by making a kind of tea from bonito flakes and kombu, both available at Asian stores. Bonito is smoked, dried tuna that is sliced into very fine flakes and used to make broth. There is a traditional party when baby gets first foods-ceremony with family and colorful dishes. Small quantities of food are made fresh for every meal.

 Recipe from Japan:

Japanese-style baby dish

1 small portion of white fish, cut into small pieces

2 tbsp soft tofu

3 tbsp dashi or other broth


Brew the dashi or other stock. Add to tofu and fish in a small microwave safe bowl and microwave for about 2 minutes or until fish is cooked through.


  1. Doc Smo: OK, Dr. Rouchouze- It’s time to move on. I understand that you have aPhD in French literature and you have a very French sounding name, I’ll bet you know a thing or two about French baby food and the way the French women wean their babies. Can you share that with my listeners please?


Dr. Rouchouze:

Lots of pureed soups called veloutés made with leeks, potatoes, carrots, or other vegetables. Cheese or pureed fish or meat may be added. Frozen veloutés are great in France- they come in pellet shapes and you can thaw and have instant baby food. There is a clearer separation of sweet and savory. French people have told me that they find the baby foods to be too mixed up in terms of sweet and savory. For the French, meal should be savory and dessert sweet, and no mixing. Small children are trained early to eat according to French norms- (times for eating are strictly defined; sitting at the table is essential; order of the meal is a savory main dish followed by a fruit compote and/or a dairy product, etc.) Lait de crossance or “growing milk”is very popular in France – there is some debate about this in the French medical community. It’s enriched in iron and fatty acids and reduced in proteins. There are also added flavors to cover the metallic taste.


Recipe from France:


French-style velouté for bébé


1 small potato, diced

½ leek, tender parts only, diced

1 inch cube of emmental (substitute gouda, swiss cheese, or a Babybel), shredded


Boil a pot of water and add the potatoes and leeks and cook until softened through. Drain and puree in a small food processor. Add a bit of milk to facilitate the pureeing. While still warm, add the cheese and stir through. Allow to cool and serve to baby. For a thinner soup, add milk to achieve desired texture.



  1. Doc Smo: And our last stop on our trip around the baby culinary world will be India. How do moms in India introduce complementary foods?


Dr. Charlotte Rouchouze: 

There is a whole host of grains and legumes that you don’t see often in Western cuisine. A lot of times, recipes for using these are quite involved, and require long soaking periods, grinding in a “mixie”, etc. But if you buy the grains already ground, it’s pretty simple to try some of the Indian baby recipes. Ragi (also called Finger millet) is considered a very nutritious and important grain for babies. It is used to make a porridge. Often the very first food, though, is the cooking liquid from various legumes such as moong dal, a kind of lentil. Fat of choice is ghee– clarified butter, and jaggery, an unrefined sugar sometimes used to sweeten. If you want to try ragi, check out the recipe below.


From India:


Ragi Porridge


2 tbsp ragi flour

1 tbsp ghee or butter

enough milk or water cover

Applesauce or mashed sweet potato to sweeten


Put the ragi and ghee into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until the ragi begins to brown and smell nutty. Add milk and stir until thickened. For sweetness, add applesauce or sweet potato. Note: mashed sweet potatoes are available in frozen pellet form at Trader Joe’s and some other markets, and this makes a very convenient sweet addition to cooked cereals.



  1. Conclusions: Some concluding remarks by Doc Smo and Dr. Rouchouzes


  • World likes porridges
  • Fish, egg, and peanut and other allergenic foods are introduced early on in many Asian cultures compared to Western standards
  • Moms do more making of their own baby foods than US
  • Prep time is often longer than in US in both France and Asian cultures
  • Do not have a reliance on store prepared baby foods-(processed)
  • Some cultures have a ritual celebration for first foods.


  1. Outro


Well, Dr. Rouchouze, I can’t thank you enough for bringing us such fascinating information about babies and eating around the world. Please promise us that you will return soon. For more conversations like today’s make sure you check out the hundreds of posts at And remember, it’s a blog…your comments are welcome. And let me remind you of my recent book, Can Doesn’t Mean Should, published by Torchflame books. A good part of the discusses nutrition in children. This is Dr. Paul Smolen, hoping that when your baby gets the hungrieees, feeding them will be a breeze. Until next time.


Smo Notes:




Baby Weaning schedule by Japanese food company


Demonstration of making baby food by a Japanese mom




Article about lait de croissance, (in French):




Very thorough blog by an Indian mom