Do French Kids Really Eat Everything?

Jan Scott February 26, 2022

I have an affinity for all things French. Fortunately, I was able to live in the South of France for a while, and I’ve travelled back there with my husband since. It’s my favourite place to visit, and I would fully admit that I’m obsessed with the food (and the whole culture of food) there.

When I first arrived in Monaco (that’s where I lived… seriously), I was fascinated by the differences in how the native French people ate when compared to my family here. Most notably:

  • Weekday breakfasts were almost always comprised of hunks of baguette slathered with Nutella, jam, or butter. Kids drank hot cocoa, while the parents consumed tea or coffee. There was no evidence of juice or cold cereal at the breakfast table.
  • Lunch was always hot. It was often made up of a meat dish (think veal, chicken, rabbit or beef), a salad (made from endive or other greens), and vegetables (carrots and zucchini were popular choices). I rarely ever saw a sandwich served at lunch. Also, no pizza.
  • Kids only snacked once a day. It was known as le goûter, and it was served after school, or around 3 pm on weekends. It often consisted of a hot drink, bread and butter, small cakes, cookies, yogurt, cheese, etc. In essence it was a mini meal.
  • Dinner was served around 7 pm. Most weeknight dinners were made up of the following: simple homemade soup, a few crackers or some bread left over from the morning, cheese/cured meat, and yogurt.

I’m not exactly sure why there is such a difference between the North American way of eating and the French, but I’m certainly fascinated by it. Thankfully, Karen Le Billion, a Canadian who divides her time between Vancouver and France, has written a book called French Kids Eat Everything.

Here is a quick synopsis:

French children happily eat everything and most of what they eat is healthy. That’s not all: child obesity rates in France are significantly lower than in North America, where poor nutrition is so widespread that it threatens the health and well-being of our children. So how do French parents teach their children how to eat so well? And how do the French government and school systems support families, teachers, and farmers to provide food education? French Kids Eat Everything answers these questions, and more.

If you can’t get your hands on the book right away, satisfy your cravings for more on this topic by reading Karen’s blog. It’s chock full of interesting tidbits about the French food culture, and I’m especially interested in the school-lunch series she’s been writing about.

Do we glorify the way the French eat? Do you think their way of eating is better?

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