Fresh Papaya and Food Presentation
May 19, 2011 § 6 Comments
I see papayas at the grocery store year-round, but I’ve never actually purchased one simply because I didn’t know how. I had never looked up how to find a ripe or tasty papaya, so I always passed. Plus, they seemed awfully large for just me and Lola (the budgies aren’t big on fruit). This week, however, there were no good looking mangoes, which are Lola’s favorite, so I decided to take a risk and buy a papaya. I literally just picked one up and put it in my cart since I didn’t know how to identify a good one anyway. When I got home, I looked up how to tell if they are ripe or not and I guess I got lucky! Mine was perfectly ripe and ready to be eaten! I sliced it open, cut it up, put some in a bowl and the rest in the fridge and handed the bowl over to Lola to let her be the judge.
She absolutely loved it!! I actually think she liked it even more than her beloved mangoes!! I gave her a big bowl full thinking there was no way she’d get through it all but much to my surprise, she actually chewed up pretty much every single piece, as well as the tasty seeds. Papaya was a HUGE hit! I guess I’ll be adding it to my weekly grocery list!
On the topic of food, I’ve been thinking a lot about food presentation lately. I very often read on websites, forums, books, etc. about people’s mash recipes, which are very often very nutritionally diverse mixtures that are either chopped very finely together or even put in the food processor to be blended together. The theory behind this is that all of the pieces will be so tiny that parrots can’t simply pick out the bits that they want, but rather will end up eating a very nutritional and healthy meal. I too believed in this and Lola’s normal morning meals used to be made up of sprouted seeds and legumes along with leafy greens and vegetables, all very finely chopped and mixed together.
I was recently chatting with a friend, however, who has been doing some research into various breeders recently and asking them about what kinds of diets they feed their baby birds. She is looking into a species that is well known for being a particularly picky eater. She made an incredibly interesting point: she mentioned that she was looking specifically for a breeder that does not make a mash and throw it all in the food processor, because babies raised on blended mixes will not learn to enjoy and savor different textures, tastes, and colors. She wanted a breeder that offered fruit and veggies in their actual form and weaned his or her babies onto well-rounded diets of real veggies, not blended mashes. I found this point fascinating and I can’t believe I had never considered it before!
Thinking about my experience with Lola in particular, she really does LOVE veggies and savor them the most when I present them to her in larger chunks and skewered form, rather than chopped up into her mash. She often leaves a lot of mash uneaten, but whenever I skewer her veggies, she will actually eat the majority of them, and play with and destroy the rest. This week, rather than her normal finely chopped sprout and veggie mix, I’ve been giving her non-chopped sprouts and chunkier fruits and veggies, and she has actually been eating more, and eating each ingredient as well.
I’m glad that my friend pointed this out to me as I think that Lola seems to enjoy her food more now, as she can truly enjoy the individual tastes, textures, and colors. Food presentation is very important to me as I think it is my job as Lola’s “mom” to make her interesting, delicious, and varied meals. It’s no wonder many parrots are “picky” eaters when they are served the same thing, every single day. This is one of the reasons why I don’t make large batches of mash or cooked food and freeze them. Since it is impossible for me to replicate her natural diet in the wild (yellowwood fruits), I like to offer Lola as much variation as possible.
I have also been much more cognizant, in recent months, of adhering to specific palettes for her meals. I used to make a big mash full of various ingredients: leafy greens, various veggies, berries, tropical fruits, sprouted seeds and legumes, etc. all mixed together. It wasn’t until a friend of mine noted that the combination of chard with strawberries and sweet potato and mango didn’t sound very appealing that I even gave it thought. I tasted it, and, well, he was right. I do now make an effort to make tastier dishes with complimentary fruits or veggies as well. For example, this morning Lola had a berry supreme and papaya breakfast (fresh sprouts with strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and papaya), a leafy green and veggie skewer snack, and a different palette for dinner altogether. Tomorrow’s breakfast will still have papaya, but I am thinking it’ll be more tropical instead and maybe contain banana, coconut, pineapple, and perhaps some apple. Or maybe I’ll do more of a papaya “salad” with some leafy greens and other ingredients. Who knows?