Health & Wellness

Baby on Board: Craving Chronicles

A series on navigating pregnancy in Baltimore.

The two things I looked forward to most when my husband and I successfully co-mingled our gene pools were the kid and the food cravings. (If our son reads this one day, it will be good that I listed him first.) There’s a scene in Parks and Recreations where Ann lists a “huge trash bag full of mashed potatoes” among her cravings—and that’s what I wanted. Maybe not garbage potatoes, but I wanted my stomach to teach my brain cool new ways to articulate hunger. And yet, with 10 weeks left in this pregnancy, my only constant craving has been for peas.

In the late spring, when my pea obsession kicked into gear, I thought maybe my baby was some kind of food puritan, sent to force me to eat seasonally from the inside out. Peas were everywhere, and so I put them in everything. I ate them by the bowlful, once going through two pounds of the three-pound sack I purchased at the farmers’ market in less than a week. I learned how to make ricotta so that I could pair my delicious peas with fresh ricotta over pasta and even typing that, at 9:19 a.m., is making me want to weep because dinnertime is so far away from now.

I realize, fully, that saying peas are my greatest craving is obnoxious. They’re peas. I get it. Everybody loves a good crazy pregnant lady food story, and I’ve seen too many faces fall when I share mine. This pea rave isn’t meant to make me seem like a demure Victorian lady who denies human urges. I am always, always hungry. Making a person is a lot of work, and so I eat almost constantly. But I’m still holding out hope that some brilliantly vile food combination will sing its siren song from my pantry, but for now, here are the normal things I’ve been eating around town.

JFX Farmers’ Market and Bazaar
Everyone’s farmers’ market route is intensely personal. We all have very different food goals and methods to maneuver/cope with big crowds and long lines. I’m fortunate that in our almost decade-long relationship, my husband has mostly conformed to my psychotic market behavior. We get in, get coffee and a snack, do a counter-clockwise loop with minimal fraternizing, and we get out. Acceptable stops include: Farm to Face Falafel, where crunchy beets, cucumbers, and greens hold hands with hot falafel in a shallow sea of honey and Sriracha. The wrap presentation allows for face-stuffing on the go. McCarthy’s Farm is, I believe, where we fill up our pea sack, but honestly I’ve never looked up other than to politely smile at the pea-handler because I’m so focused on the end goal. Locust Point Greenhouse is where we stop for fresh flowers and plants (not technically a food, but I can’t have booze so we now have a constant rotation of floral arrangements). We’ll hit Reid’s Orchard on the way out for berries, and if we have any cash left and finished our falafel too quickly, we’ll pop by Blacksauce Kitchen for second breakfast.

Belvedere Square
One of my favorite things about pregnancy is the smugness I feel when I bounce out of bed early on a Saturday while knowing all of my friends are still fitfully sleeping off their hangovers. (This smugness is a façade built around myself to feel better about not also being hungover.) I very much enjoy being an early bird at Belvedere Square to split a humongous Plantbar juice with my groggy husband, supplemented with bagels from Greg’s, and coffee from Atwaters.

Taharka Brothers Ice Cream
If forced to make a decision, I’ve always been a person who would take a vat of hot, salty, vinegar-soaked fries over dessert of any kind. But now that I’m pregnant, I’ll take the fries and some ice cream, please. Specifically, I’d like a pint of Salted Caramel from Taharka, which is sold at the grocery store three blocks from my house, because sometimes things just work out that way.

I am fully aware that eating raw fish while pregnant is frowned upon. But pregnancy makes your brain want many things all at once, and sushi spots are the best for getting lots of little bits of things. Minato’s bento box special on Sunday nights has made me very, very happy. I split some edamame and spring rolls with my dinner date and then go to town on a platter of shrimp tempura rolls, sesame chicken, rice, and whatever else I can get them to throw into the mix. Also, if other restaurants could get into the game of selling food by the bite, that would be great.

The 800 block of The Avenue in Hampden
Going with the theme of sating the many palates I experience all at once, the 800 block of The Avenue has something for all of me. The chicken kabop wrap and tikki chat from The Verandah are so perfectly seasoned and toe the glorious line between feeling gluttonous, but also not being entirely bad for you. The Ma Petite Shoe Café offers delicious decaf drinks and a variety of crepes (the recent “Chicken Dinner” crepe special had stuffing in it. Stuffing. In August. What a world.) And, obviously, The Charmery makes the list because I’m not a fool.

Matthew’s Pizza
We used to reserve Matthew’s for super special hangovers—the kind that settle in deep and really latch on, oblivious to the Gatorades you’ve chugged. But now it’s reserved for just being hungry for pizza. Though dining in is lovely, I recommend grabbing a three-cheese with pepperoni to go, and using the car ride home to really let the aroma permeate while you sip on a Limonata San Pelligrino, like you’re on holiday in Italy. Then bring it back to America once you’re back on your sofa with a Netflix nosedive.

Friends and Farms
Friends and Farms is like having your cool, health-conscious parents do your weekly grocery shopping. They aggregate food from the region (small carbon footprint!) and source from ethical farms (feel good about your food!) and put it all together in insulated reusable bags (take that, landfills!). Every food group is represented, down to yogurt, milk, and bread, making light of any subsequent grocery store runs. Food pick-ups are once a week, and the friendliest people in the world dole out your bounty. Friends and Farms has been a wonderful resource for us this summer. Pregnancy brain is very real, and having someone curate a healthy mix of the food pyramid means we’ve eaten delicious, balanced meals, and not boxed Velveeta mac and cheese every night.