'French Kids Eat Everything' a new memoir/healthy eating guide. Thanks to a slew of titles extolling Gallic glory, we Americans already know we are vastly inferior to the French in most important ways (weight, sex, child-rearing, and so on). Could I take one more blow to my self-esteem?I was prepared to hate
When author Karen Le Billon moved from Vancouver to her husband's native village in Brittany for a year, she brought along plenty of her own insecurities. Growing up in a farming family, she writes that, "garlic was considered an exotic spice." As a newlywed, her French husband dubbed her "The Queen of the Burnt Pots." And worst, while she observed that little French children sat politely at the dinner table for hours and ate everything from "spinach to stinky blue cheese," her two picky daughters were used to scarfing potato chips and hot dogs on the run.
"Living in France is not like visiting France warned my husband," recounts Le Billon. And sure enough, soon everyone from the grocer to the pre-school teacher was giving her advice on "how to eat properly (in other words, like the French)."
Le Billon says that living in France challenged her basic assumptions about family eating. Initially, she had hesitations: "My kids won't eat that way! It's way too expensive! I don't have the time!" However, over time, she opened up to the French style of eating and even distilled ten food rules to live by.
1. Parents: You are in charge of food education!
2. Avoid Emotional Eating. No food rewards, bribes, etc.
3. Parents schedule meals and menus. Kids eat what adults eat. No short-order cooking!
4. Eat family meals together. No distractions.
5. Eat your veggies. Key: think variety.
6. You don't have to like it, but you do have to taste it.
7. No snacking!! It's okay to feel hungry between meals.
8. Slow food is happy food, as in--eat slow!
9. Eat mostly real food. Treats on special occasions are okay.
10. Remember eating is joyful-relax!
Eating like the French in France is one thing, and Le Billon acknowledges the challenges she had following her rules when the family returned the Vancouver. Her book expands and adapts the rules for American realities and acknowledges that, "No two families are alike. Rather, my hope is that reading about these rules, and our stories, will trigger insights and intuitions about what might work best for your family."
'French Kids Eat Everything' is, at its core, a common sense look at wholesome eating that transcends any one culture or sensibility. The recipe for mousse au chocolat is pretty good too.