When they’re not busy bickering (ahem…is anyone else finding their summer of fun is turning into a summer of fighting?), the girls seem to be enjoying a tiny culinary curriculum I’m trying. It’s nothing formal or fancy; just something I cooked up on my own. Get it…cooked up? Oh God, please excuse me. Playing judge and jury to 3 girls pushing each others’ buttons all week has left me brain dead. I actually punned. I never pun.
The idea was inspired by Karen Le Billon’s, French Kids Eat Everything. I started this book recently, after reading her blog for several months and following the media coverage on the book’s launch. It is illustrated by my favorite artist, Sarah Jane. The basic premise is that French kids are educated from a very young age, both formally and informally, about food, which we all know is a core component of French Culture. After moving to France to live near her in-laws, the author discovered their simple secrets to creating lifelong healthy eaters. She publishes French school menus on her blog, and you will only need to read one entry to believe that French kids indeed, eat everything. As someone who quickly grows bored with recipes and is constantly making new things for our table, I love this book. It’s inspired me to stray from my American cooking, and return to fish, something Greg and I ate almost solely before we had kids. I’m excited to introduce new vegetable recipes, new cheeses…the list is endless!
But more importantly, Karen Le Billon’s writing has inspired me to take my children’s food education more seriously. It’s not enough to just put good food in front of them. I must talk to them about this food. Where did it come from? Why are we eating it? Where does it fit into a balanced diet? What is happening to our food sources? What choices do we face in the grocery store? How does food play into our health? The kids just finished “Make Your Own Lunch” week. We made pizzas, chicken nuggets from scratch (you should have seen Avery’s face when I plopped her in front of a pound of raw chicken chunks), “lunchables”, stir-fried ginger snow pea pods, and ravioli. I laid out bowls of veggies and let the girls pick their own bowls. By week’s end, Avery was trying foods she would have never touched just a mere 5 days ago. She is a self-proclaimed “picky eater”, and as her Aunt, I will attest, she started the club and has the tshirt. I believe it reads, “If it isn’t served with ketchup, I’m not touching it.” This week was clearly an introductory soft sell: a healthier way to eat the foods you love. Our next week will be “new ways to prepare veggies”.
I’ve most enjoyed dining with them at lunch. No TV, music to match the theme of food we’re eating, a lit candle, and the 4 of us chatting about our meals. It has been pure joy. Yesterday, when I’d just about had enough of their sniping with each other, I took my lunch to the island, and Kelly’s face dropped. “What? Aren’t you going to sit with us and talk about our lunches?” Well, OK THEN! But I pick the music! “NO!!! No more Italian Opera!” HA HA HA!!!! YES! OPERA! Because nothing goes better with fancy cheeses cut into shapes than Pavarotti!