I found “French Kids Eat Everything” so thought-provoking I bought a copy for my son and his wife who are expecting a baby. For two days after reading it I told anybody who would listen about “this great book.”
The author decided that she, her husband and two children should live in France instead of their home in Canada. Her husband is French. His family is in France. It all made sense. Her husband agreed to a trial period of one year. What the author didn’t count on was the culture shock she and the children experienced. One of the biggest differences was how the French experience food and eating. She condenses what she learned into 10 Food Rules. These include:
- Parents, you are in charge of food education! Children’s bad manners at mealtime are due to lack of instruction from the parents.
- You don’t have to like it; you just have to taste it. It takes many tries before a person learns to like a food.
- Eat slowly. Take your time. Enjoy your food and the people you are eating with.
- Eat mostly “real food.” The less processed, the better.
- And the hardest one to follow at first: No snacking. It is okay to be a little hungry. It makes the meal taste better.
Le Billon discovered that she liked many of these rules. At first, shopping daily for food was a bother, but she quickly discovered the social pleasures of going to the market as well as the wonderful flavors of fresh food. Her daughters went from picky eaters to children who eat a wide variety of foods slowly with good manners. Unfortunately, when they returned to Canada, the children had trouble adjusting to the Canadian/American school lunch that allows a very limited time for a meal. And the food is not nearly as fresh and tasty.
The French “rules” and the concepts behind them made a lot of sense to me. Food and how we relate to it is a very relevant topic considering the obesity problems in the United States. The book certainly got me thinking about food and mealtime in a different way.
Another memoir with a focus on eating fresh foods is “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver. I enjoyed this book, and it raised my awareness of the many reasons to eat locally sourced meat and vegetables.