Rice cakeI can honestly say that I probably wouldn’t have got through the last year of my life without rice cakes (not a sentence I ever thought I would write, but, oh, how motherhood changes you). Specifically the tiny, organic ‘first finger food’ ones that come in plain and naturally juice-sweetened flavours – you know, the ones every middle class mum worth her salt has permanently stashed in her handbag. A handy snack  that’s almost biscuit-like enough in form and function to fool your little one that it’s a treat, they don’t have anything too nasty or junky in them. OK they’re not exactly the most nutritional food on the planet, being 90 per cent air and having about 0.3 calories in each one, but they are much better than the alternatives – ie KitKat/packet of custard creams/McDonald’s Happy Meal/delete as appropriate.

At the back of my mind, for a long time, these rice cakes were my lifeline – a guarantee that if my baby son did have a meltdown in a public place I could probably shove one or two of these in his direction, and it would keep him in a good mood for a few moments longer. If I left the house without a pack in my bag, I had that horrible vertiginous feeling you get when you’ve lost your keys or your mobile phone – vulnerable and a bit panicky. I knew they were ridiculously overpriced – over £1 for 50g measly grammes – are we talking mere rice here, or reconstitued gold plating? But the peace they guaranteed was worth it. 

Sadly in the last couple of months their magic effect seems to be coming to an end. The occasional naughty taste of Hobknob and chocolate birthday cake has made my son get wise to the fact that there are other less-cardboardlike treats out there in the greater food universe. I certainly can’t eat a real biscuit in front of him, and palm him off with one of those spherical little fellas any more.  If I’m lucky, he’ll gnaw on one for a bit these days, then toss it half-eaten onto the floor where its faintly sticky coating and gloopy edge collects a surprising amount of fluff in a very short space of time. Still it was good while it lasted.