It begins. The first cravings hit. As do the first waves of nausea. Either of which may be the tip-off that you are no longer alone—even when you are by yourself. Which is officially the creepiest way to describe pregnancy.
In this chapter, we have some light snacks, soups, finger food, and appetizers made from the finest ingredients that you can pick at your local supermarket… or hardware store. Get ready to drool. And maybe puke a little.
PINEAPPLE AND TROUT CAVIAR CRACKERS
Ludmilla, Moscow, Russia
The juice from the pineapple along with the caviar makes it a bit slimy, but hey, giving birth and having babies is a great way to get over squeamishness.
3 large slices of pineapple
2 teaspoons trout caviar
Trim the slices of pineapple into equal rectangles.
Add a dollop of caviar to each one—about M teaspoon per pineapple cracker.
Jessica, Vancouver, Washington, USA
Onion… the vegetable that goes with anything, but never nothing.
½ onion, red, white, or mixed according to preference
1 spring onion, for garnish
Slice the onions into rings and bite-size pieces.
Arrange the rings and pieces on a plate. Consider making a design like the Olympic rings, an animal, or an abstract artwork.
Slice up the spring onion and sprinkle over the plate.
If all the slicing takes up too much time, simply peel the onion and take a bite.
JESSICA, VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON, USA
“I WAS PREGNANT WITH MY OLDEST IN 2004 AND CRAVED ONIONS LIKE CRAZY. I WOULD ACTUALLY EAT THEM AS MOST WOULD EAT AN APPLE. AT THE TIME THEY SOMEHOW SEEMED KIND OF SWEET WITH A BIT OF A BITE AT THE SAME TIME. ALMOST LIKE JICAMA WITH A LITTLE CAYENNE TO IT. I HAD TO HAVE THEM WHENEVER THE CRAVING CAME. PROBABLY ATE ABOUT A TRUCK LOAD. NO WAY I COULD DO IT NOW!”
Kerry, Cape Town, South Africa
SERVES 0—WE FELT OBLIGATED TO TRY THIS FOR ART, SCIENCE, AND YOUR AMUSEMENT. WE STRONGLY URGE YOU NOT TO BE SO MASOCHISTIC.
The head tastes like garlicky egg and the rest tastes like nothing. All in all, the experience isn’t terrible. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for your breath afterward.
One box of matches
“Cook” the matches by burning them (preferably without setting off your smoke alarm).
KERRY, CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA
“The craving came out of nowhere when I was lighting a candle with a match. I always quite liked the smell of matches, but suddenly it smelled delicious and I was dying to taste it. It was the weirdest feeling. I remember holding the burnt match up to my nose and inhaling deeply. My mouth was watering, but there were other people around and I didn’t want them to think I was nuts.
I couldn’t stop thinking about it though, so when I was alone I lit another one and touched it with the tip of my tongue just to see what it was like. Before I knew it I was chewing on it. IT WAS INDESCRIBABLY GOOD. I CARRIED A PERSONAL STASH OF MATCHES IN MY HANDBAG FROM THEN ON. Although I ate them a lot, I always spat them out into a tissue instead of swallowing—I may be crazy but I’m not that crazy.”
PEGGNUT BUTTER CUPS
Tina, West Liberty, Ohio, USA
This unholy love child of a chicken and a peanut has the flavor of peanut butter, the texture of slimy rubber, and the appeal of a dad joke.
2 tablespoons peanut butter
A few crushed peanuts
Prick the eggs at the bottom and place inside a pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil over medium heat.
Let the eggs boil for 10–12 minutes.
Place the eggs in ice water to cool.
Peel the eggs and then cut in half lengthwise.
Remove the yolks with a teaspoon.
Put the peanut butter in a piping bag and pipe into the space where the yolk used to be.
Sprinkle the crushed peanut pieces onto the peanut butter.
Arrange on a plate and serve.
SWEET BACON AND COTTAGE CHEESE SUSHI ROLLS
Hannah, Hamburg, Germany
Proof that it doesn’t matter what you wrap in bacon—cottage cheese, a worm, your shoe—it will still taste good.
3 rashers of bacon
3 tablespoons cottage cheese
1 teaspoon brown sugar or 3 brown sugar crystals
Preheat the oven to 250°F / 175°C.
Carefully roll each rasher of bacon around a 1-inch / 2-cm ring mold. Alternatively, you can squash a piece of tinfoil into a cylindrical shape and use that as your mold.
Grill in the oven for 10–15 minutes or until crispy.
Take out of the oven and let cool until you can safely handle the bacon and mold.
Slide the bacon off the mold and fill the center with cottage cheese.
Sprinkle the brown sugar on top of each roll.
FORAGED GREENS WITH HOT FUDGE DRESSING
Maria João, Lisbon, Portugal
Best results with a small portion of especially bland lettuce and an extra serving of hot fudge.
¼ (14-ounce / 400-ml) can condensed milk
2 teaspoons cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1 tablespoon butter
⅛ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ounces / 60 g salad mix
Add the milk to a heavy saucepan and sift in the cocoa powder. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Boil for 3 minutes while stirring constantly.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the butter. It should melt rapidly and can be stirred into the mixture.
Add the vanilla extract and stir.
While you wait for the hot fudge sauce to cool, wash the salad mix and pat dry with a paper towel.
Arrange the salad mix on a plate.
When the hot fudge is cool enough to eat, pour it artfully over the greens.
Clair, Bristol, England
SERVES 0—WE’LL MAKE YOU A DEAL. YOU DON’T EAT THIS. WE WON’T TELL YOUR NEIGHBORS WHAT YOU JUST DID TO THEIR WALL.
Tastes like expensive dental work.
Procure your piece of wall in the most legal way possible. Lick it or break off small, bite-size pieces.
CLAIR, BRISTOL, ENGLAND
“I lived in a predominantly Victorian housing area. AS I WALKED PAST OLD BUILDINGS, THE SMELL OF DELICIOUS EARTHINESS WOULD BE IRRESISTIBLE. I would pick at the stone and collect little pieces to lick and crunch between my teeth. There was an old school wall that had a particularly crumbly texture that I liked to go to. Interestingly my mum had a craving for mud, the dried stuff that used to be left on potatoes when you brought them from the green grocers. She would lick the mud off the potatoes. So odd cravings seem to run in the family.”
PEANUT BUTTER, BALSAMIC GLAZE, AND HAZELNUT SPREAD BITES
Margarita, Santander, Spain
Everybody was having such a great time until the balsamic glaze came to the party.
2 teaspoons hazelnut spread
2 slices of baguette
2 teaspoons peanut butter
1 teaspoon balsamic glaze
2 hazelnuts, for garnish
Put a layer of hazelnut spread on one baguette slice, followed with a layer of peanut butter.
Use a fork to create an attractive pattern of lines.
Add a layer of balsamic glaze in stripes going in the opposite direction to the pattern created by the fork.
Repeat the process on the second slice of baguette, but change the order of the ingredients to create a color contrast. Top each bite with a hazelnut.
POPCORN ON A BED OF SAUERKRAUT
Claudia, Hamburg, Germany
SERVES 1 VERY HUNGRY PERSON.
It’s not any worse than sauerkraut by itself.
1 (14-ounce / 400-ml) can of sauerkraut
1 bag of microwave popcorn
Sprig of thyme, for garnish
Heat up the sauerkraut in a saucepan adding butter, salt, and pepper to taste.
Once it is warmed through, remove the saucepan from the heat.
Follow the instructions on the packet of the microwave popcorn. Be careful to note which side is “up.”
Place a portion of the sauerkraut on a plate. Add some of the popcorn on top, garnish with thyme, and serve.
RAW BROCCOLI WITH APPLESAUCE
Sara, Gahanna, Ohio, USA
A little weird but inoffensive and instantly forgettable. If “meh” was a flavor it would probably be broccoli with applesauce.
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons water
1 stick cinnamon
1 cup small broccoli florets, uncooked
Peel the apple, core it, and cut into pieces, leaving two slices to use later as garnish.
Add the apples to a saucepan with the sugar, water, and cinnamon and allow the mixture to simmer over medium heat for about 15 minutes.
When the apples are soft, remove the saucepan from the heat and allow to cool.
Remove the cinnamon stick, retaining it to use as a garnish, then puree the mixture until smooth.
Serve the raw broccoli with the applesauce.
Garnish with the remaining apple slices and the cinnamon stick.
RAW BROCCOLI WITH APPLESAUCE
SARA, GAHANNA, OHIO, USA
“The craving sort of hit me out of nowhere. I was about fourteen weeks along and I had just gotten out of the shower. As I walked down the stairs I felt like I got a whiff of apples and for whatever reason, I immediately decided that broccoli was the absolute best thing to add to applesauce. I wanted something crunchy and smooth so I DECIDED TO JUST BREAK THE RAW BROCCOLI INTO FLORETS AND DIP THEM IN THE APPLESAUCE. LIKE CHIPS AND SALSA, ONLY HEALTHIER AND TASTING NOTHING LIKE CHIPS OR SALSA.
My son, who was seven years old then, tried it once but hated it. He got in the habit of sitting by me with a spoon when I ate it so he could steal the applesauce. When I told my mom about it, the next time I visited her, she had broccoli and applesauce there for me. It was so sweet.
I remember eating it once every two or three days until the sixth month when I developed an intense craving for burnt popcorn… something I still eat today, three years later.
But I did try it again when my daughter was probably eight months old and was showing a sudden aversion to breast milk so I started eating my favorite pregnant foods to help familiarize the flavor for her. I wasn’t as enthusiastic about the combination after birth, but my daughter had no problem nursing after that!”
RICE AND GASOLINE
Maria, Vespasiano, Minas Gerais, Brazil
SERVES 0—NO! ARE YOU NUTS? PUT THE CHOPSTICKS DOWN.
Reviewed like a fine wine because it was sampled like a fine wine: sniffed, tasted, then spat out. The bouquet was a bitch-slap of toxic fumes. Distinctive notes of spicy ink dominated the flavor, leading to a hard-to-rinse-out finish tinged with regret.
¼ cup / 65 g rice
¼ cup / 60 ml gasoline
Rinse the rice until the water runs clear.
Add ½ cup / 120 ml water and a pinch of salt.
Stir once, then bring to a boil.
Simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes or until cooked.
Remove the rice from the heat and drain well.
Serve the rice onto a plate and either pour the gasoline over it or put it next to the rice in a dipping bowl.
Jessica, Adelaide, Australia
A juicy, tasty mess. It’s the innovative new salad for people to ignore at your next BBQ.
1–2 tablespoons BBQ sauce
Wash the beet, being careful not to tear the skin, and then trim the top and root. Be sure not to cut too much off or the color will bleed into the water.
Put in a pot of water and bring to a boil.
Simmer on low heat for about 25 minutes.
Drain into a colander and allow to cool slightly.
Slice the beet into even slices, arrange into a fan, and pour the BBQ sauce on top.
JESSICA, ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA
“When I was pregnant, I truly thought this was the greatest thing I had ever eaten. BEING PREVIOUSLY TRAINED AS A CHEF I HAD TASTED MY FAIR SHARE OF CULINARY DELIGHTS BUT THIS ONE TOPPED THEM ALL!
My strange craving came about when I was hungry. I knew I hadn’t been eating the best so I was thinking about something healthy. A salad sandwich came to mind. I wasn’t so sure about the lettuce, though. Maybe just bread, cheese, BBQ sauce, cucumber, and BEETROOT! I already love beetroot but as soon as the word had entered my head I had to have it NOW! Forget the rest of the sandwich. That amazing earthy flavor. I still wanted the BBQ sauce though and thus my strange craving was born. I ate it every day for lunch for weeks, sometimes more than once and snacked on it throughout the day. I had to have at least one tin of beetroot a day minimum.”
LEMONS WITH SKIN
Kate, Cedar Lake, Indiana, USA
The dish has a lemony aroma and a lemony taste intensified by the lemony lemon peel and lemony aftertaste.
Wash the lemon well.
Cut it in half lengthwise and then into slices about ½ inch / 1 cm thick.
When eating, do not discard the skin, but eat it with the rest of the fruit.
LEMONS WITH SKIN
KATE, CEDAR LAKE, INDIANA, USA
“I GOT THE IDEA FOR THE “RECIPE” ONLY BECAUSE I WAS CRAVING LEMONS SO BADLY AND WAS FINDING WAYS TO INCORPORATE THEM ANYWAY I COULD. I LOVED THE SMELL AND THE TEXTURE. MY FAMILY THOUGHT I WAS CRAZY WALKING AROUND WITH LEMONS ALL THE TIME BUT DID NOT COMPLAIN AT HOW FRESH I ALWAYS SMELLED.”
CHIPS AND SOUR GUMMI WORMS
Meryl, Johannesburg, South Africa
It’s not so much bad as unnecessary. Like a Romeo and Juliet sequel.
6 nacho cheese tortilla chips
6 sour gummi worms (about 1 small bag)
Arrange the chips on a plate and put a sour gummi worm on top of each chip.
TOMATO SOUP WITH M&MS
Nicole, Thomasville, North Carolina, USA
The kind of thing you might end up eating if you forgot to go shopping and have no food at home. That, or you are really stoned.
¼ white onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1½ cups / 240 g chopped fresh tomatoes
M cup / 160 ml chicken stock
1 teaspoon sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup / 60 ml heavy cream
Optional: 1 teaspoon sherry
5–10 different-colored M&Ms
Fry the onions in the olive oil until translucent.
Add the tomatoes, stock, sugar, salt, and parsley.
Simmer on medium heat for 20 minutes.
Allow to cool a little and then puree the mixture until smooth.
Return to the pot and add the cream, sherry (if desired), and pepper to taste.
Serve in a bowl and sprinkle the M&Ms on top like croutons.
TOMATO SOUP WITH M&MS
NICOLE, THOMASVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA, USA
“The idea honestly just popped into my head as I was sitting at work answering phones. My job was at a resort, and the kitchen staff was extremely helpful during my pregnancy. They made a lunch “special” for me. When I first tried it, this weird feeling of full body satisfaction occurred. The taste was wonderful while pregnant… a good combination of bitter and sweet. It was my midnight snack for at least a month.
My entire family thought I was crazy and would usually make puking noises with every spoonful. MY NOW SCHOOL-AGED SON GIGGLES EVERY TIME I TELL HIM ABOUT THAT CRAVING. When asked if he would ever try it, he just says, “Ew, Momma. Never!””
SPRING ROLLS WITH CHOCOLATE SAUCE
Jenny, Johannesburg, South Africa
You have been eating spring rolls wrong all your life. If Einstein was a cook, this is the recipe he would have come up with.
6 frozen mini spring rolls
3 ounces / 90 ml store-bought chocolate sauce
½ small red chile pepper, chopped, for garnish
Heat the spring rolls according to package directions.
Arrange in a stack on a plate.
Dribble chocolate sauce over the spring rolls generously.
Add the chile pepper for garnish.
Kelli, Los Angeles, USA
SERVES 0—OH, YOU ACTUALLY TOOK THE TIME TO MAKE THIS? SORRY, NO, YOU CAN’T EAT IT. AND YOU CAN’T GET THOSE 15 MINUTES OF YOUR LIFE BACK, EITHER.
There are no surprises here. It is exactly what you would expect eating toilet paper is like. And also exactly why it is made for your butt and not your mouth.
1 roll of toilet paper
There are many different methods for preparing toilet paper. This is the “Classic Rose” method.
Set up a small bowl of water to dip your fingers in to style the toilet paper.
Unroll the paper until you have approximately sixteen squares in a strip.
Tear off the strip and scrunch it together until it forms something similar to a rose.
Sprinkle a little water on one side to hold the shape and place it on a plate.
Tear eight individual squares of toilet paper off the roll.
Dampen each one and roll into a ball.
Arrange the balls of toilet paper around your rose.
KELLI, LOS ANGELES, USA
“It started with me noticing the smell of it. Sometimes it smelled sweet and then other days it smelled like a real musty old bus. And the weird thing was I wanted to eat it more when it smelled like a bus!
I only tried it a few times as I was scared I was clogging myself up but I liked the texture and flavor. IT KIND OF TASTED LIKE CANDY FLOSS AT FIRST AND THEN ONCE IT WAS ALL CHEWED AND MASHED IT LOST ITS FLAVOR AND JUST TASTED HORRIBLE. Like when you have a tooth out and the doctor shoves a cotton wool ball in your mouth.
It started with a square at a time until that wasn’t doing anything for me. The most I ate at one time was about twenty squares. I know, pregnancy makes you do strange things.”
CRAB STICKS WITH JAM
Camilla, Xanxerê, Santa Catarina, Brazil
This wouldn’t be half bad if you replaced the crabs with a hamburger patty and the jam with some ketchup… maybe added a bun, some cheese, bacon, and French fries and a Coke…
2 crab sticks
1 chive to use as a tie
1 tablespoon alfalfa sprouts
1 tablespoon jam of your choice (we used rose petal)
Remove the crab sticks from the packaging.
Tie them together using one long chive.
Place on a bed of sprouts.
Dribble jam on top and around artistically.
Roseanne, West Islip, New York, USA
It tastes like a cup of diluted salad dressing. Not really so bad, but not the type of thing you would drink given a choice of… well… anything else ever.
1 bottle of pickles
Pour the juice from the bottle of pickles into a glass.
Add some slices or whole pickles for decoration.
Use the seasoning from the pickle bottle as garnish.
ROSEANNE, WEST ISLIP, NY, USA
“IT WAS BASICALLY THE BEST DRINK I’VE EVER HAD. IT’S SO SATISFYING IN SUCH A STRANGE WAY. I WOULD DRINK IT AS OFTEN AS I HAD PICKLES IN THE HOUSE. MY HUSBAND AND MOTHER WOULD GET MAD BECAUSE THE PICKLES WOULD DRY OUT. BUT MY SON WOULD DANCE AROUND INSIDE ME WHEN I DRANK IT SO I GUESS HE LIKED IT, TOO!”
Nino, Tbilisi, Georgia
SERVES 0—GO TO THE TRASH. GO DIRECTLY TO THE TRASH. DO NOT PASS BY THE MOUTH. DO NOT COLLECT $200 WORTH OF MEDICAL BILLS.
It tastes like spicy fire. With an aftertaste of swearing, spitting, and mouth-washing.
1–5 different colored nail polishes
Open the bottles and pour onto a plate in aesthetically pleasing shapes.
Decorate with some flowers that complement your nail polish colors.
NINO, TBILISI, GEORGIA
“I WAS ADDICTED TO ALL STRONG CHEMICAL SMELLS LIKE GASOLINE AND HOUSEHOLD CLEANING PRODUCTS. BUT NAIL POLISH WAS MY FAVORITE. I ONLY ACTUALLY TASTED IT ONCE—IT WAS QUITE POTENT BUT IN A GOOD WAY. AND I HAVE TO SAY, MY NAILS NEVER LOOKED BETTER THAN WHEN I WAS PREGNANT!”
HOT DOGS WITH PEANUT BUTTER DIP
Nikki, San Diego, California, USA
The first time being allergic to nuts will work out to your advantage.
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1–3 hot dogs
Place peanut butter in a small dish.
Dip hot dogs into the peanut butter and eat.
HOT DOGS WITH PEANUT BUTTER DIP
NIKKI, SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA, USA
“Basically I craved peanut butter but didn’t want the sweet taste people pair it with, like fresh fruit or jelly. I wanted something salty and hot. I would try to play it off and eat a bite of apple dipped in peanut butter followed by a bite of hot dog. One day, I ran out of apple. So I did what I finally wanted to and I dipped my hot dog in the peanut butter and took a giant bite. It was delicious!
I HAVE LEARNED THAT WEIRD FLAVORS PASS ON! MY OLDEST TWO CHILDREN ARE OBSESSED WITH PEANUT BUTTER, and adore putting cheese on their PB&Js! I’m actually pregnant with my third and can’t stand peanut butter now, though.”
Elmira, Cork, Ireland
SERVES 0—IF YOU ARE CRAVING THIS, PLEASE CALL YOUR DOCTOR. IF YOU AREN’T BUT WANT TO TRY IT ANYWAY, PLEASE CALL YOUR THERAPIST. EITHER WAY, DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME.
That horrifying moment when you realize that “melt in your mouth” texture has an evil twin. A really, really evil twin.
2 large pieces of chalk in different colors, e.g., green and red
Grate the green chalk into powder.
Put a smaller bowl on your plate and sprinkle green powder around it to create a circle.
Put the red chalk in the middle of the plate and slice into pieces.
Treys, Windsor, Ontario, Canada
SERVES 0—SINCE YOU REALLY SHOULDN’T EAT THIS, IT’S A BIT OF A SAD WASTE OF CHIPS.
Those grains of sand are like vicious little ninjas. They wreak havoc in your mouth, then go into hiding, only to reappear when you least expect it with a hideous, tooth-breaking crunch.
2 ounces / 56 g sand
1 ounce / 28 g potato chips
There are various methods to create this dish, the simplest of which is just to pour some sand into a bag of chips and shake.
Pictured is the sand-stripe version. Carefully pour lines of sand onto your plate.
Place chips across the lines at regular intervals.
Finish off by sprinkling a little sand on top of the chips.
SALAMI AND CONDENSED MILK
Francisca, Panamá, Goiás, Brazil
This dish is actually surprisingly tasty, but there just seems no place for it in the world. Too common for a restaurant. Too unhealthy to give the kids. Too weird to eat alone. Too much shame at the bottom of a can of condensed milk.
1 salami (or ¼ each of four different types of salami if you are looking for a bit of variety)
¼ (14-ounce / 400-ml) can condensed milk
Slice the salami into thin slices.
Place on a plate and pour the milk around it.
Eat by dipping each piece of salami into the milk.