All photos from 1994, taken with a 35 mm camera, in the pre-digital camera age!
|me in front of the Arc De Triomphe|
When I purchased something in a shop, I gave the clerk my best "merci." He looked at me scornfully and said "You're welcome." After we left, my stepsister C. (who had spent time in France) explained to me that everyone there knew I was an American. She pointed at my white Reebok hightops. Oh. I suddenly noticed that only the American tourists wore sneakers. Proper French people wore leather shoes.
|On our way to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower|
(Before all you France lovers get too angry with me, I assure you I still found the city of Paris interesting. Napoleon's tomb was one of the most amazing things I have seen in my life. Ever. And when we later stopped in the town of Lyon, I found the people to be friendly and the area simply beautiful.)
|Entrance to Napoleon's Tomb|
Karen Le Billon, the author, is from Canada and married to a French man. She convinced him to move back to the little town he came from in France for a year. They took their two little girls with them. It quickly became apparent that Karen and her daughters did not fit in with they way they ate.
Le Billon noticed that French kids not only seemed to enjoy eating, but ate a huge variety of foods. They are expected to eat everything they are served uncomplainingly. They eat well. Their obesity rate is one of the lowest in the developed world. Le Billon's quest to understand these differences later became this book. Note that there also a bunch of recipes at the end of the book.
I've been sitting here for 30 minutes writing and have realized this post will be way too long if I were to write about everything I found interesting in the book. So I'm going to jump ahead and tell you that Le Billon came up with 10 rules to get children to eat well. I am not going to list those here, because I don't want any copyright issues, but I will tell you they are all summarized on the back cover of French Kids Eat Everything and discussed in detail in the book. As Le Billon began to apply these rules to her children - and herself! - they all began to eat better. As an anti-most-vegetable-eater myself, I was fascinated to read how they began to like vegetables. To the point that the children now list beets, broccoli, and creamed spinach among their favorite foods! Now that makes me feel like I did eating veggies when I was a kid - I want to gag. But I also want to learn to eat them better. I hope to apply a lot of what I read to my husband and I and Hunter. Tabby likes way more veggies than we do. And Solomon likes a variety of foods so far. Of course this book isn't just about eating veggies.
|My brother P. at the Musee Des Invalides (we like doing goofy stuff like this)|
How about school lunches? The French National Ministry of Education states: "School is a privileged place in which children are better educated about good taste, nutrition, and food culture. Good taste must be taught and learned, and can only be acquired over time." The children are served hot meals on real dishes at tables covered with tablecloths. "Vegetables had to be served at every meal: raw one day, cooked the next. Fried food could be served no more than once per week. Real fish had to be served at least once per week. Fruit was served for dessert every second meal, at a minimum; sugary desserts were allowed--but only once per week." (Le Billon, p. 42) A nutritionist and committee of parent volunteers oversee meal planning. And, instead of asking their children "how was school today?" parents ask "how did you like your lunch today?"
|Notre Dame - with the annoying for picture taking scaffolding in front of it|
This book has inspired me to "change my food ways". To help me further on this quest, I have just purchased Le Billon's newest book, Getting to YUM: The 7 Secrets to Raising Eager Eaters and look forward to reading that to gain additional tips and recipes. Though I don't know much about it yet, at Le Billon's website, karenlebillon.com, she offers both a baby taste training plan and a toddler taste training plan. (What about ME? How about an adult taste training plan?)
What about you? Do you have a family full of picky eaters? Are you one? Would you like to change that? If so, reading French Kids Eat Everything is an inspiring place to start!
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