Friday, 22 February 2013
Let's talk about food!
My Little Miss S tried curry for the first time last weekend (home-made by our friend). She absolutely loved it and I am very pleased about that because my Hubby cooks curries a lot on weekends, which means she can eat them with us now (just don't go crazy with spices and obviously no take-aways).
Anyway, the point I'm trying to make here is that, in my opinion, kids should be introduced to as many different flavours as possible from the young age. For me personally, this belief comes from my own childhood. Food played an immense role in our family life, and no, I'm not talking about take-aways, food prepared freshly from seasonal ingredients. There would be a starter, main and dessert for dinner. I remember when we lived in Kiev (my father was a diplomat so we travelled a lot) on weekends all of us would go to a market to choose stuff for our lunch or dinner. I cannot even begin to describe these markets (think Borough Market 10 times better with delicious smells and vibrant colours). You could also sample anything you wanted which is ideal for exploring new flavours. Back then it seemed normal, but now living in London I see that it is not that easy to find a good market. Fresh salmon on fresh bread with butter and lemon, caviar in jars, meaty tomatoes, spicy pickled carrots, stuffed aubergines... This is just a small part of my childhood food memories.
I've taken this particular photo from Google images. Haven't been to Kiev for over 10 years, but just wanted to show how colourful our local market was. And that's just a tiny little vegetable section ...
So, what I mean is food formed a huge part of my childhood. I remember all the tastes and smells as though it was yesterday. For me food is not just about eating. It is about exploring, smelling, bringing family together, talking, enjoying and forming memories. Food makes you smile, it makes you think and it encourages you to share. This all stems from the way I was brought up and therefore, I want the same for my child. I want her to 'embrace and understand' food. I want her to know her vegetables and fruits, and understand what's seasonal. I want her to know that in different countries around the world people eat different food and I want her to enjoy it or at least - try it.
Little Miss S was first introduced to Greek cuisine at around 10 months. This was her first meal from our favourite restaurant in Crete. Stuffed zucchini flowers and tzatziki (red wine is for parents).
All this made me think about what's it going to be like for my daughter once she starts school. I think we've all heard or even experienced (those who have children at schools already) that school meals in Britain are not as healthy as they should be. Some of them are even appalling. I'm not going to write much on this particular subject as firstly, so much has been said already, and secondly I'm hoping that by the time my Little Miss S starts school there's going to be an improvement, because otherwise I can see myself choosing her educational establishment not just on a basis of academic achievements and extra curriculum activities, but on food as well (if such search is possible;)
Anyway, I've recently purchased a brilliant book by Karen Le Billon.
She is an American lady who moves her family to a small town in France where her husband is from. The book is about her daily experiences of trying to adapt her family's eating habits to French food culture. It is not easy at first, especially for her daughter who is a fussy eater, because in France children from the young age are highly encouraged to eat everything (no snacking is allowed!). Anyway, I haven't finished the book yet so I cannot comment more, but Karen also writes a blog which I very much enjoy and really hoping to recreate some 'yumminess' that she is writing about (one day, hey).
Here is an extract from her blog that I just think is brilliant (shall I move to France now?!).
"Fresh baguette, eaten plain, is also served. The kids drink water (there are no other drinks of any kind available at lunch, and there is a national ban on vending machines and junk food in all French schools). Dessert is usually fresh fruit, but a sweet treat is often served once a week"
National ban on vending machines;) I am determined to make sure that my little one only drinks water (well, and fresh carrot/apple juice that I try so hard to prepare on a daily basis!) and it works now. Well, of course it works as she doesn't realise that other very sugary drinks are out there in the world, the question is what happens when she does find out ... My niece is half-french, actually. She is seven now and she is happy to drink water, so let's hope good habits are there to stay;)
And just to round things off, here is an example of a menu from one French school (taken from Karen Le Billon's blog).
Salad: Savory olive bread
Main: Sautéed chicken with green peas à la barigoule (a traditional sauce made with artichoke hearts)
Cheese/Dairy:Fromage blanc (a light, creamy cheese that is somewhat like a thick yogurt in consistency)
Dessert: Seasonal fruit
Salad: Cucumber with balkan yogurt sauce
Main: Roast pork with gravy and lentil stew
Cheese/Dairy:Reblochon de Savoie A traditional unpasteurized cheese from the Alps: rich creamy yellow, nutty-tasting, and a little stinky!
Dessert: Apple compote (sauce)
Salad: Green bean salad
Main: Sautéed veal with bulghur wheat
Cheese/Dairy: A mild, very light cheese (made with skim milk), also from the Rhône-Alpes region
Dessert: Seasonal fruit
Salad: Grated carrot salad (a French kids’ favorite)
Main: Filet of fish with lemon; ratatouille and rice
Dessert: Liégeois au chocolat The treat of the week! A rich chocolate ice cream topped with whipped cream, served in a tall glass. Say no more.
Salad: Cabbage salad with mayonnaise (sort of like cole slaw)
Main: Sautéed beef with sweet and sour sauce, and pasta
Cheese/Dairy: Organic yogurt with organic sugar
Dessert: Fresh fruit cocktail
When can I start packing?!
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