Parents-to-be hunt down legendary pop-goes-the-belly foods in every city; what's on Richmond's list? (Illustration by Jim Callahan)
Sometimes it’s good when your dinner sends you to the emergency room. Admittedly, it’s not often. But when you’re nine months pregnant, a burger-induced trip to the hospital starts to sound like a ticket to the Hawaiian Islands. Parents-to-be hunt down legendary pop-goes-the-belly foods in every city, though the little research done on the theory suggests that there is no correlation between food and the onset of labor. The superstition may be an old midwives’ tale, but it has a firm hold in that circle; Internet message boards are also ready with confident recommendations, and I’m betting at least half of your mom friends are, too. What’s on Richmond’s list?
Eggplant Parmigiana from Edo’s Squid, Mamma’Zu or 8 1/2. Two women tell me it worked for them, and I’ve even been at the table at Edo’s when one woman went into labor. Take it seriously, because the salty, saucy, crispy layers of eggplant and cheese have a very serious reputation.
Dry-Fried Eggplant at Peter Chang China Café. This is only confirmed by two women polled, and I am one of them. Wedges of eggplant seasoned with a slightly tongue-numbing tang, and tossed with pepper flakes and scallions, will again be my belly bomb of choice if I go for baby number two.
Saison’s Fresno Chile Sauce or Sirloin Burger. Co-owner Jay Bayer saw this maternity magic firsthand in summer of 2013, when a group of friends ordered plates featuring the chile sauce. “One started to eat and then she was like, ‘Oh. Oh. We’ve gotta go,’” he says. “She took off and later said she went into labor at that moment. It was hilarious. But I’ve heard tell of this happening from other folk, too.”
The Salsa Bar at Taqueria Panchito. According to labor-food mythology, spicy is a sure bet for baby coaxing, and when you load your meal with all-you-can-eat, not-for-the-faint-of-heart salsa, the odds increase exponentially. This Midlothian hot spot makes a fresh, blended jalapeño-avocado sauce, a tomatillo and cilantro concoction laced with green chile, and an extra-hot red chile alarm ringer.
Other Lore. Teresa Daniels, a VCU School of Medicine student, confirms the hospital cafeteria’s turkey sandwich is a go-to for moms-to-be. One doula swears by Pearl’s lemon cupcakes, and one friend notes that the wait at Millie’s is so long that your baby is bound to come out before you get your food — sort of like the old “go to the bathroom and your food will be on the table when you get back” trick. Sort of.