That is the most offensive book title I have ever seen, said my child when the review copy of French Kids Eat Everything arrived in the post: I mean, it's putting down all kids who aren't French.
Hmm I thought I can see where you're coming from, but then again you do regard pasta with pesto as highly exotic.
Part memoir, part cook book, part nutritional rallying cry French Kids Eat Everything: How our family moved to France, cured picky eating, banned snacking and discovered 10 simple rules for raising happy, healthy eaters by Karen Le Billon is a feast for the mind in many ways.
We're off to this place in France in the summer, and given that neither of my kids are what you might call culinarily adventurous, I was interested to read this book for ideas on what to expect, and pick up some pointers we could apply at home.
French Kids Eat Everything traces Le Billon's family, who moved from Vancouver to spend a year in France and in doing so found their eating habits transformed.
In contrast to Le Billon's children, French children seem to happily tuck into a huge variety of food. The author researches how this comes to be and how she can apply it to her own picky eaters. A big stumbling block seems to be Le Billon herself, who freely admits that she's a reluctant cook with fairly narrow tastes and a hardened attachment to snacking.
I was reminded of the chapter on fussy eating in Toddlers: An Instruction Manual, which says:
"If, deep down, you know that your own approach to food and trying new things is less than positive, then don’t be surprised if your child picks up on this. And if that’s the case, then the place to start making improvements is within your own attitudes rather than your child’s. Be honest – does your child see you eating a varied, balanced diet? Are you up for new food experiences, even if it’s something you don’t expect to like? Does all the family regularly share meals together?"
Le Billon distills what she learns from French ways into 10 rules, though some of this will seem like common sense rather than a uniquely French approach. What makes this book stand out is the way in which it shows Le Billon attempting to apply these rules to her own family, a journey which is often far from plain sailing. She's a mother who has struggled like a lot of us, and is sharing the lessons this has taught her.
Controversially, part of the French way involves the attitude that it's OK for kids to be hungry sometimes, with even little babies left waiting for the next scheduled milk stop. There's absolutely no snacking, no eating on the run or in the car - French parents would be horrified at the way most UK parents carry a snack on every school run.
I liked this book very much and found it to be a fascinating, engaging and thought-provoking read. I don't think it's just one for parents of picky eaters - anyone who has an interest in children's nutrition will find it worth reading. And anyone whose child has erupted in the face of something green on their plate will find this an invaluable source of ideas for a new approach.
I'm delighted to be able to share this fascinating book with you. I have one copy of French Kids Eat Everything to give away.
To enter, leave a comment below saying what was your favourite food as a child. Closing date: Midnight on Monday 21st May.
Optional extra entry if you like this blog on Facebook - state in your comment if you're claiming an extra entry.
I will pick a winner at random after the closing date and post the book to them as soon as possible after that. No regional restrictions, will post the prize anywhere in the world. Though if you're in France you probably don't need it.