The French way of eating has received quite a bit of attention this decade. First a study touting red wine is good for cholesterol and how the French could eat high fat foods while sipping on their wine. The second is “How French Women Don’t Get Fat” (my review here) and now “How French Kids Eat Everything.” This book contains a combination of parenting and feeding advice, some is common sense and some that is interesting especially to us Indians who seem to have brought up a generation of fussy eaters.
Author Karen Le Billon and her husband moved their two young children from Canada to France, and encountered many cultural adjustments and a very different food culture. In France kids seemed to eat everything from all types of vegetables and exotic dishes, they do not snack between meals, and rarely complain about food. And French kids are rarely overweight despite their love of food. All the same contrasts can be made with Indian upper middle class children — they are fussy and eat too much, too often and usually all the wrong foods. The only difference is that in India when a child does not eat, the mother has to spend an hour on each meal runnign after the child coaxing him or her to eat. In the US they are left to eat on their own. Obviously both tactics are creating heavy children!
Back to the book — it is a full of fun and honest anecdotes as the author is determined to get her two picky children eating the French way within a year.
The French obviously begin ingrain their children early with food culture — mindful eating, eating high-quality foods which are minimally processed, reasonable quantities, eating a wide variety of foods and not eating for the wrong reasons — such as emotions. Too much snacking is another difference she finds between the cultures and French children are usually given one snack in between lunch and dinner. They are taught to enjoy food, France is the home of pastries and delectable desserts.
Our Indian food culture has been paralleling the US/Canada culture with stress eating, eating on the run, and lots of snacking — all habits that have percolated down to our children.
Whether or not you have kids this book is worth a read. The central theme is that eating should be not be feared but enjoyed — one of my own philosophies.
As a working mom I don’t have the time to be a chef making 4 meals a day but I know it is possible to prepare tasty, healthy dishes from ingredients you can find at the local markets with a bit of planning and preparation. The book contains simple, tasty, and interesting recipes, some with ingredients that may be difficult to find. Learn how to substitute, and just experiment, but moreover enjoy the read.