Last month I finished reading French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon, and it was really quite interesting!  Le Billon tells the story of moving her family (with two young children) to a remote part of Brittany, France, where her husband grew up.  A lot of what she writes isn’t advice but simply stories about her experiences, the various things she tried with her girls, and the traditions of that particular region.

While I found several of her stories shocking (it was considered rude to interrupt dinner when her husband had to go to the ER for a severe allergic reaction) and the French views on breastfeeding and attachment parenting disappointing (it’s rarely done and usually frowned upon), there were a lot of really fantastic ideas to help kids develop a healthy attitude toward food.  By “healthy,” I don’t mean specifically focused on diet or nutrition.  I mean that eating should be enjoyable:

  1. Families should try to eat together, at the table without distractions, for at least one meal a day.
  2. Meals shouldn’t be rushed.  This is a social time!
  3. Variety is important.  Don’t eat the same meat/vegetable/grain more than one time each week.  Trying new foods should be exciting, not scary.
  4. Cooking is a time to be enjoyed.  Slow down and savor the art.  Set the table and even light a candle.  Put on some music.  (Le Billon recommends French artists Yann Tiersen and Francis Cabrel who I’ve been enjoying.)

My son is only 10 months old, but this book has inspired me to encourage his developing tastes before neophobia (the fear of new foods) sets in around two years old.  Right now, he eats everything!  He even enjoyed some baked oysters recently when we were at the beach.  But I realized that I need to be more adventurous.  I don’t eat a lot of seafood, and so I’ve made a special effort recently to cook more seafood at home.  I’ve started with lighter fish like tilapia and cobia, but plan to work my way up to more adventurous offerings!

Little Bear at 7 1/2 months old.  We’re still working on eating neatly!

I’ve also been taking it slower in the kitchen.  It’s summer now and I’m not teaching, so while I still go into the office to work five days a week, I have a little more time at home.  I’ve gotten to try several new dishes and am embracing this time for “marvelous meals” (pasta squisti) as Dianne Hales writes on her blog La Bella Lingua.  Perhaps some will stick around and become part of our regular repertoire in the fall!

New Favorite Recipes