If I ever thought that going on a road trip through the United States and eating well was difficult, Karen Le Billon embarked on a food adventure of epic proportions, by moving her family from Vancouver to France. In her book, French Kids Eat Everything (and yours can too), Karen chronicles the culture shock of taking her family, including two young children, to a completely different country, where snacking between meals is taboo and children taste everything.
As a food lover and cook myself, with a picky eater at home and a teenager who eats everything, the idea of reading about a family’s food struggles in a different country was very appealing. I have worked with children, as a special education teaching assistant, for the past twenty years, and am very familiar with how lunch usually looks for young kids at school. Even when my family has travelled only as far as the United States, I’ve found my family’s attitudes around food to be vastly different from the places we visited, which was fascinating.
French Kids Eat Everything is an amusing and educational read. I loved hearing about how the Le Billon family navigated their first forays into French culture—from holidays to dealing with in-laws. Ms. Le Billon’s description of her own faux pas—when visiting her youngest child’s new preschool or giving one of her children a cookie in the grocery store checkout—made me giggle, as we all have done the same (or worse!) ourselves, without a culture rapping our knuckles in disapproval.
What I like most about Ms. Le Billon’s book, is that the French ‘rules’ of eating are laid out in an informative, gentle, and yet humorous way, without being preachy or unrealistic, intertwined with parenting stories. Many of the rules we already follow at home, and the others would be easy to incorporate without much fuss. After reading the book, I found myself opting to snack less and enjoy my meals more. Even though my son is sixteen, and past the age at which I may have assumed some of the rules would have been relevant, they provided a great deal of food for thought, as we discussed how other cultures view food, and then chose some of the recipes from the back of the book to try.
French Kids Eat Everything is a very enjoyable and useful read. I highly recommend it to anyone who has children, no matter what their age. It’s never too late to start eating healthier.