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French Dining

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
(I'm not sure if this is the correct place for this so forgive me if I'm wrong!)

An amazing discovery was made while visiting some friends of mine that live in Paris. Imagine sitting down for a noon meal that consists of oeufs durs vinaigrette - hard boiled eggs vinaigrette, gigot d'agneau aux herbes - leg of lamb with herbs, pommes de terre sautées - sautéed potatoes, Camembert bio - Camembert cheese, fruit de saison - seasonal fruit.

Sounds wonderful right?

Now picture this...

This is what my friends child had for lunch that day...at school. No, not a private school, nor a meal made by mom and taken to school to be eaten. This was the menu for the day in a public school! And we wonder why our American children are obese. I couldn't get over it when they told me that this is what the food is like daily. Made me want to go back to school...only this time in France!

They gave me the web address so, if anyone is interested in seeing a "typical" school menu for French children, go here -

http://www.mairie4.paris.fr/mairie 04/jsp/site/Portal.jsp

Scroll down until you hit the bottom and see Caisse des écoles then click on Consulter les menus en cours. Scroll about half way down and on the right you'll see a listing for Menus 2008/2009. Clicking on Menus septembre 2009 or Menus août 2009 and a pdg will open allowing you to see the menus for the month.

I'd love to hear what people think of this. I know I found myself wishing my children had food like this in school and thinking my grandkids should be eating like this instead of hamburgers and fries, pizza all washed down with Coke.

If Wile E. Coyote had enough money to buy all that ACME stuff, why didn't he just buy dinner?
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If Wile E. Coyote had enough money to buy all that ACME stuff, why didn't he just buy dinner?
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post #2 of 21
Ok here's my thoughts on this... this sounds like a 4star meal here in the US. But take away the fancy french words, and let's picture a normal lunchtray with dividers. In it there are:

- a hardboiled egg with some oil and vinegar on it
- a piece of "who-knows-what-kind of meat that is" with a sprinkle of dried herbs.
- a couple of round potatoes (probably cold)
- a square piece of cheese from the supermarket
- a bruised apple

See? Just cause you write it out in french doesn't mean that it's necessarily much different than what kids are getting here.

And where the heck is the bread? At least give the poor kid a slice of baguette.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #3 of 21
You are 100% correct !!! Take away the words and you have plain food. In fact I always told my students when you write a menu, put as many descriptive fancy words as possible as the longer it is the more you charge.:chef:
CHEFED
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CHEFED
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post #4 of 21
Thread Starter 

Really?

"Just cause you write it out in french doesn't mean that it's necessarily much different than what kids are getting here."

Really? Cause I thought that people in France would actually write things in, oh, I don't , French.
When is the last time you saw kids in the US eating leg of lamb or cordon bleu or lamb or chicken with thyme or fresh zucchini or any of the myrid of items listed on the menu? I'd say it's a lot different from the hamburgers, hotdogs, pizza, fries, coke that I know are served in my grandkids schools.
There are also breads, milk, cheese and other items that the children are able to select. So, all in all, I'd say that even if it's served on a tray it's a lot different.
If Wile E. Coyote had enough money to buy all that ACME stuff, why didn't he just buy dinner?
Reply
If Wile E. Coyote had enough money to buy all that ACME stuff, why didn't he just buy dinner?
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post #5 of 21
Was it good? That's the question. You can have a darn good hamburger and fries if you ask me.

My ACF dinner meeting menus used to read something like this:

1) Scallops
2) Fois Gras
3) Intermezzo
4) Duck
5) Lamb
6) Cake
7) Cheese
post #6 of 21
Then why is Kentucky Fried. McDonalds. Burger King all doing better now in Europe then in US.??? Sales here are up 6% in the US, in Europe 12 to 18% for the year to date.:chef:
CHEFED
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CHEFED
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post #7 of 21
I didn't respond to your post to start an argument. I will be the first to tell you that kids' lunches at school are horrible here with only the minimal attention paid to nutrition.

Once upon a time when I lived in europe things were great. People were eating real foods, soda was hard to find even in supermarkets, and junk food didn't get more serious than a piece of chocolate. But nowadays I can't say that europe is any different than it is here. Every year I go back and what do I see? Obese children eating at Goody's. You can't convince me that Europe is on the right track.

But the point stands about translation. Of course the french would write in french, but this website is in english - and if you wrote it out in plain english it wouldn't sound nearly as impressive as you intended. Why just today I had pain avec les tomates rôties, le fromage fraîchement râpé, les champignons, et le jambon fumé (a.k.a. a slice of pizza).

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #8 of 21
Thread Starter 

Sigh

Apparently I was not able to convey my thoughts on this in a concise manner. This wasn't about the menu of some ADULT group like ACF nor is it about the menu being written in French. (That was done because it is the language the menu is written in. I only put in the English translation for those who might not know French.) It wasn't about Kentucky Fried, McDonalds, or Burger King and how their sales are doing in Europe. It wasn't to cause an argument, although the wording from some of the replies certainly sounded argumentative to me. Then again I haven't lived in the US for the past five years so what do I know.

This was about my surprise at finding food that is served daily to children...not adults...children, in Parisian schools. Not private schools nor to children that are home schooled. Public schools. Not to 18 + year old kids but to young kids. The child I refered to in my op is nine years old. What nine year old kid do you know in the US that has a school served lunch, in a public school, like the ones found on the menu posted at the website I listed? Even better, did any of the people responding even bother looking at the menu before getting back to me? I doubt it.

So yes. I was surprised and decided to share my surprise on here. Just as I have shared some of my dining exp. in some of the resturants that I've visited around the world. If my being surprised and wanting to share that with the group offends you...oh well.
If Wile E. Coyote had enough money to buy all that ACME stuff, why didn't he just buy dinner?
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If Wile E. Coyote had enough money to buy all that ACME stuff, why didn't he just buy dinner?
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post #9 of 21
I'm glad the children of france are eating better than the children of the US - you are very lucky. It is not as impressive to me as it is to you I guess. I still think that until you taste these meals yourself you'll never know if they really are as good as they seem. The only person here offended seems to be you.

That being said, the link you posted doesn't work.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #10 of 21
When I visited France, in a rural area near Bordeaux, it seemed almost that "France was closed" from noon-2, except for restaurants. In my experience there, the food really was great, and fresh ingredients were considered essential. That was in the year 2000.

I realize that fast food has been successful there, business-wise, at least in some areas. I saw a more traditional side. I hope they keep school food somewhat traditional.
post #11 of 21
I think, as a person living away from the Euro-USA discussion here, that as a person who has never had the delight of eating a school lunch in either country (except in a US college or 10, where the meals were good home style cooking btw) I think that American Suisse is copping way too much flak.

Ignore the french words - its a beautiful language - it can't help it. Suisse was translating for our benefit and merely wanted to share the surprise of finding out what they were being served - pretty balance meal by the looks - as compared to elsewhere.

I tried the link too - with my pidgeon french I think its under construction or something.

Suisse - could you please double check the link to see if it's correct or current? I'm curious, and it wouldn't hurt others to be able to have a look also, I believe.

DC

P.S. Anywhere McD's and the Colonel etc goes, obesity follows. It's pretty straightforward. Powers that be save us all.

And if the kids get served that type of food at lunch then get the same rubbish for tea...well. 1 + 1 generally equals 2. No brainer.
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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post #12 of 21
Thread Starter 
Koukouvagia and DC Sunshine, you are correct. The link I posted is under construction however if you go to Mairie du 4e - Accueil instead you'll be able to hit the links to the menu. And DC Sunshine, thanks for getting what I was posting about.

As for my being offended...that's too funny. I don't know anyone on here well enough to be offended.

OregonYeti - the whole "France was closed" comment is so true. It's one of the first things I had to get use to when I settled in Switzerland. Any idea how weird it is to go to a store only to find the doors locked in the middle of the day? Seeing children leaving schools at lunch time was weird as well. I asked a neighbor what that was all about and she told me that the schools don't serve lunch so the kids go home for lunch or to Migros to buy sandwiches and ice tea. I'm not kidding about the ice tea! You can see kids walking around with 1 liter bottles of the stuff sucking it down like they are dehydrated...which considering how much of the stuff they are drinking they probably are.

To answer the questions on how the food tastes at the Parisan schools will have to wait until I hear back from my friends. Prior to posting this I shot off an e-mail to them asking if they wouldn't mind having their daughter tell me what she thinks of the food.

I did a search of the menu at the elementary school where two of my granddaughters go to see what was on the menu. Here's what I found for the week:

Monday - Hot dogs on a bun or meatball sub, tater tots, catsup/mustard, baked beans, gelatin and milk.
Tuesday - Chicken nuggets, choice of dips, scalloped potatoes, hot vegetables, two dinner rolls, applesauce and milk.
Wednesday - Hamburger or cheeseburger on a bun, tater tots, catsup/mustard, baked beans, zoo crackers and milk.
Thursday - Hot pockets with ham & cheese, hot vegetable, fruit, graham crackers, milk.
Friday - Assorted kinds of pizza or tossed salad w/croutons, pears, cookie, milk.

Now, in English or in French, that is a horrible menu! Can you now see why I was surprised at the menu from the Parisan schools?
If Wile E. Coyote had enough money to buy all that ACME stuff, why didn't he just buy dinner?
Reply
If Wile E. Coyote had enough money to buy all that ACME stuff, why didn't he just buy dinner?
Reply
post #13 of 21
It seems to me that the difference here is simple enough: American children are served "kid-friendly food" and French children are served "food." I mean, the French menu described consists of ordinary cuisine bourgeoise. I'm sure they don't serve expensive delicacies, nor things that pretty much all kids in France are thought to hate -- not sure what those would be, but every country seems to have a little list of these. The menu otherwise makes no particular concessions to the notion that "kids won't eat" this or that. American menus are constructed around the idea that kids have to be tricked into eating almost anything, by making everything appear to be fast food. And that is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Just to add a further comparative note, my son and daughter, when in Kyoto, were served lunches at their schools. My daughter was 1, in a day-care, and my son was 3-4, in a nursery school. Now in Japan, little kids are served "kid food" just like in America, but the idea of what constitutes "kid food" is rather different. It's an oddity of Japanese cuisine that "kid food" is pretty much the same as grownup food, barring only some things that very few people prepare at home anyway. What grownups and kids alike eat is stuff like curry rice, noodle soup (udon or ramen), broiled or simmered fish, pickles, miso soup, tofu, etc. And that's what they serve in the schools. The kids get excited about "curry rice day," but they eat what's put in front of them, as a rule. And because of what these foods are, it's very healthy, low-fat, and inexpensive.

Which takes us back to the original post. I take it the point is that French kids, like Japanese kids, are served respectable menus of healthy food, with no major concessions to the fact that they're kids. American kids are served foods that Thomas Keller could not make really healthy and balanced. And obesity?

I don't know about France, but I can say that since I got back from Japan I am constantly shocked about this. I can't go into a grocery store, walk down the street, or ride the subway without seeing a considerable number of morbidly obese people. I'm not talking about the mildly overweight; I'm talking about people who can't walk 100 yards without wheezing, who have rolls of fat hanging down their legs, who clearly have to roll their stomachs out of the way to undo their pants, who take up two or more seats on the subway. Weight in children and adults is on the rise in Japan, and lots of people are worried about it, but the incidence of morbid obesity in the U.S. is shocking.

And yes, I do believe that encouraging children to eat fast food and junk food -- even when it's actually disguised semi-healthy food -- builds long-term eating habits that prompt weight problems. I mean, if you grow up thinking that fried chicken nuggets with ketchup and fries and a soda constitutes an appropriate meal, your conception of healthy dining is likely to be a little skewed.
post #14 of 21
A really encouraging thing to me is the number of McDonalds and KFCs that are a blight on our landscape seem to be going out of business (or at least the franchisees are!).

I have only been in a McDs twice in my life, to accompany one of my children to a 'birthday' party in their so-called food store.... YUK, YUK and yuk again.

I'm all for the French type of food for children - not food made to be 'child friendly' but REAL food.

Thanks Suisse...
post #15 of 21
Thanks for the new link Suisse. I'm glad if I could help, too. Thank goodness for the Google translator - was getting pretty lost without it :) Very limited french ability here.

I wish I could eat what they are having for my lunch!

More care does need to be put into what we get our children used to. If they are used to good food - they'll eat it. Is that typical of a french school? I know you said that wasn't a posh private school, but a public school. From watching the Jamie Oliver (like him or hate him, he's made a good point) series on revamping UK public school lunches, I can see battles ahead, but all the more worthwhile for the sake of the adults they will become, and the lowered cost to the national (wherever one may be) health system with the myriad problems caused by obesity, and as Chris says, by the morbid obesity which is becoming more and more commonplace. Then you have to think about the generation of kids they will raise, the food habits they will impart....its a bad domino effect.

Normal serves of tasty, well balanced food are preferable to some of the rubbish lunches out there. And it will keep them full for longer, and certainly benefit their bodies and minds. We wonder about the explosion in diabetes and asthma? Some answers lie there. By having read this thread, I'm glad I get to pack lunches for my 2 teens. School lunches haven't existed where we've lived. (Except that I'm really jealous of the french menu :) ).

They've got a pretty good understanding of healthy food and how to make it from scratch- and what not to eat (or once in a while types of food. Ban it and they'll crave it). Giving myself and them a big pat on the back here hehe. And thanking my parents for educating me, likewise.
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
Reply
post #16 of 21
I've always been so confused by the "children's food" here in the states. There is a huge market for it and they keep catering to kids. They wont' eat cheese unless it's string cheese, they won't eat fruit unless it's a cereal or a roll-up, they won't drink milk unless it's a milkshake, and the children's menus at restaurants are always the same: hamburger, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, mac n' cheese, spaghetti, and french fries.

I have a couple of friends that have grown up in this manner of eating. Now they won't get near chicken if it has a bone in it (or any other meat with bones in it for that matter), they ONLY eat american cheese (low fat now that they're grown ups), chips must accompany every sandwich, and fruit is eaten out of del monte cups.

Being a teacher in public school I am terrified of what my child will be experiencing when they get to school. I guess my child will have to grow up much like I did - an outsider much like Toula from My Big Fat Greek Wedding, who brought stuffed grape leaves and moussaka leftovers to school every day.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #17 of 21
Our kids would never eat the school lunches when they were small and neither will the oldest grandkid now. Our kids went thru stages with their eating habits, for instance....the oldest went thru a few years where the only thing he wanted was very plain roasted chicken breast on or off the bone with some simple veggies each night and maybe a simple pasta dish once a week, that was his menu for his teenage years and now in his late 30's he eats virtually everything again. The middle one only wanted pot roast with spatzle and veggies for his mainstay and the youngest was into plain chicken or lean pork for his teen years. The oldest grandson (now 8) eats anything you put before him and is a pleasure to sit at a table with, for instance we went over to their house tonight and he asked me if I would make him stuffed cabbage this weekend.....now how many 8 year olds do you know that will request something like that instead of "can we go to McDonalds"? I think his eating habits evolved because from his birth until he was 4 he spent a lot of his time with hubby and I, and us not having children around for quite a few years until he came along had forgotten how to cater to their wants when it came to food. His parents were in school and most of his meals were with us, he ate what we ate so his young tastes were influenced by what he saw us eating, by the same token his younger brothers and sister have different preferences because his parents had much more influence on their eating habits and often have to resort to fast food with the pressures of their job schedules. While the younger ones have no problems with the lunches the schools serve the older one does, he doesn't care for any kind of fried potato, likes his veggies crisp and fresh and chicken nuggets are what he calls mystery meat, being in elementary school they don't get choices like in a high school, there is one meal for everyone at his level. School has already started here and he is making his own little lunches (with his parents approval) to take everyday along with his veggie sticks to snack on and is much happier with that than what the school offers. And this weekend I'll make him his stuffed cabbage with enough for their freezer too.
post #18 of 21
I agree that the whole idea of "kid food" is a bad idea. Once they are past breast milk or a bottle, they should eat real food rather than being "protected" against it with hot dogs and fries and all that.

The whole idea of "kid-friendly" food is a marketing thing that has done a lot of damage, in my opinion. Made money for some businesses at the expense of the kids. Why did it succeed? Because we didn't know then what we know now. And now that this junk is established in our culture, it is that much harder to do anything about.

Even parents with the best intentions and willing to do what it takes, face a challenge. If your middle-school kid feels ridiculed for not eating burgers and tater tots all the time, it's hard for the parent to explain and impossible for the kid to explain to peers. We're fuddy-duddies and advertising has won, and is reinforced by other parents who go along with it.

It's frustrating for me, as a dad who is willing to put time and effort into making good stuff for my kids, when the school (and even my wife) don't have the same idea.
post #19 of 21
I will say that "kid food" has its justifications here and there. Many smallish children taste leafy greens differently from the way most grownups do -- there's an enzyme or something that most adults stop being able to detect, which is horribly bitter for those (including most small children) who can detect it. And of course a lot of spicy foods are just not appropriate for children with the un-dulled palates that come with youth. But beyond that, they can eat what we eat, and should. Jacqes Pepin and his wife Gloria made a point of this with Claudine, and apparently by the time she was 10 she'd eat pretty much anything without question, because it simply didn't occur to her that someone would serve her something that wasn't appropriate food. I can't compete with Pepin's cooking, to be sure, but he's on to something there.

He also notes the fabulous effect of getting "help" in the kitchen. If your little kids can stir the pot, throw things in, and generally feel they're doing something to make the dish, they will own it. And if the kid "made" the dish, the kid will almost certainly want to eat it. Apparently Claudine used to stir the pot when she was 2 and would eat it all. My main problem with this is time: you have to pre-prep everything, and then it's a whole production to ensure that the kid has the opportunity to help, and that at least doubles cooking times on anything. Still, I strive for it, and when I do it the results are remarkable. My son Sam thinks anything he cooks is good, but occasionally fusses -- quite randomly, actually -- about things made for him.

My own opinion is that "kid food" is a creation of what adults actually like. Americans who push "kid food" don't actually want to eat something more sophisticated themselves, and would prefer hamburgers and tater tots. Which, of course, is a self-reinforcing cycle....
post #20 of 21
Having the kids involved in making the food is right on :D They love it when they cranked the pasta machine or even just picked that tomato that's going into the sandwich. Involving the kids in the food preparation, even just a tiny bit, makes a lot of difference. I didn't really try that out much until people here said to try it. It really makes a difference when the kids have a part in making the food. They have a feeling of pride and accomplishment. And all of a sudden the food tastes great to them even if they wouldn't have liked it before.
post #21 of 21
I agree with you on this, kids should be involved in the kitchen. This is a learning experience and the fact that we live in a world where we have to buy out the time to get stuff done , this makes for great one on one time with kids. Building blocks for a good relationships and in the end they learn to prepare and appreciate what actually goes on in the kitchen.
On a small note...how I remember my "mommy" making my lunch.....:D ( I am 42 and still call her mommy...I am not ashamed !)

Petals
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Wine and Cheese
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Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
(162 photos)
Wine and Cheese
(62 photos)
 
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