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The French Experiment

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Have you read ‘French Children Don’t Throw Food‘ by Pamela Druckerman? I did last year and it was so interesting to read about how children are raised in France. It certainly dispelled any mother-guilt about sending my child to daycare.

I’ve recently read ‘French Kids Eat Everything‘ by Karen Le Billon which is a similar story about a Canadian woman living in France with her French husband and two young children. It explores the relationship and attitudes that the French have with food and compares the French diet to the typical American/Canadian diet. Karen’s experimentation with the French way of eating doesn’t always go to plan and she fails time and time again to understand the French philosophy but with each failure she seems to get closer and closer to the truth of French eating habits. By the end of the book she has developed an appreciation for the French diet and her once picky children have broadened their palates to include seafood, olives, spinach and beetroot.

The French seem to have a strict authoritarian approach to food from birth and their appallingly low breast-feeding rates are not something I envy. However the stories contained in this book are encouraging when it comes to broadening children’s palates. Karen emphasises the French enjoyment of their food and the powerful persuasive nature of peer pressure in getting children to try new foods and enjoy them. There’s a delightful anecdote about a family dinner and the children’s table which is set apart from the adults and carefully decorated, where the children are left to eat together and the older children successfully encourage the younger children to eat seemingly ‘adult’ foods.

Reading’ French Kids Eat Everything‘ has encouraged me to stretch my daughter’s food preferences and the array of receipes at the back of this book have been so helpful. We’ve had several four course dinners as a result. Starting with soup, then bread & cheese, then a main and dessert. And while, there has certainly been more washing up, the joy of spending time as a family, instead of rushing through dinner to get back to TV has definitely been worth it. Oh, and I’ve finally been able to get my daughter to eat her greens!

Sophie’s Spinach SurpriseĀ 

  • 1 zucchini, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 or 3 handfuls of baby spinach leaves, roughly chopped
  • optional: 1 tsp butter and, if the spinach is bitter, a small spoonful of honey
  1. Bring zucchini and water to the boil in a medium saucepan, simmer for a few minutes until zucchini becomes translucent.
  2. Add spinach leaves and allow to wilt for 1 or 2 minutes
  3. Remove from heat and blend

For more recipes visit Karen’s website: http://karenlebillon.com/

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2 responses »

  1. Well done for getting your daughter to eat her greens! Karen LeBillon’s book was really interesting. It took me a while to get out of the habit of feeding my kids snacks throughout the day, but it has helped them eat more at meal times. After reading it I whipped up some pasta with SPINACH and pesto. I was so surprised that they love spinach! The main thing I got from that book is that you shouldn’t underestimate what they will eat… And the more you try and persuade them, the less they will want to try new things!

    Reply
  2. Thanks for the info. My daughter will eat everything only when I handfed her. When she eats by herself, she will be a picky eater. ;)

    Reply

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