French Children’s Meals

There’s a lot I could say, and plan to say, about the noteworthy French perspective on food. For just a quick note about it today, I want to point to you to the following insightful article by a Canadian blogger and francophile (lover of things French).

French School Lunch Menus: by Karen le Billon

Karen says, “Eating, for the French, is not just about ingesting food. It’s about socializing, about sharing, and participating in a shared rite of citizenship. Learning to eat well is actually a form of citizenship training, as odd as that might sound.”

In her article she quotes a school restaurant in Versailles: “But above all else, we aim to enable children to spend joyful, convivial moments together, to learn a ‘savoir-vivre’, to make time for communication, social exchange, and learning about society’s rules–so that they can socialize and cultivate friendships.”


The French people understand that mealtimes are about training tastes and savoring good things. And French school lunches are not a national program, but something organized by each community.

While I’m personally not a fan of public school lunches for numerous reasons, one has to admire a country whose school lunches for young children are every bit as delicious and deliberate as the two-hour, four-course repasts that adults enjoy daily on their leisurely break from work. There’s no “kid foods” on these French menus, the author of the article notes! Beets, spinach, ratatouille, camembert, bleu cheese, salmon, mussels, or beef tongue, anyone? …Vegetables, cheese, and meat: bravo!

Take a look at some of the French school menu plans collected by Karen le Billon as part of her French Kid’s School Lunch Project. Her book, French Kids Eat Everything, looks intriguing, too.

Riquewihr, France___________________________________________

Really, America, your discussions and regulations about school food aren’t nearly at the successful level of what the French have capably done!

Take a look at this USA Today article on school lunch reform, for instance, showing what kind of discussions Congress is having. Nowhere near the practice of serving celery root and creamed chestnuts to willing young epicures, Americans are arguing over whether 2 tbsp. of tomato sauce on pizza (not very good pizza, I suspect) counts as a vegetable.

Of course, school food is a microcosm of the greater food culture in a country, which in America is obviously far different from France. I don’t intend to downgrade the many wonderful foods and chefs in our country, but we really could learn something from our overseas neighbors. (Most of the good things we know about food has already come from them anyway.) I’ll write more on this soon, hopefully. Until later, au revoir!

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