My kids, overall, are good eaters. I won’t go into my philosophy in detail just that I take a French-mother/Man Who Ate Everything approach to feeding them. It seems to be working for us –despite the occasional protests.
One thing I have always tried to do is make sure my girls know where their food comes from. I do not want to find myself, burger in hand, facing my kid around 12 suddenly stricken with a look of horror saying:
Wait you mean burgers and cows are the same thing? So what was the animal we ate last night?
Me: Well we had venison so you could say we ate Bambi, well probably her mother.
Living in Thailand has made this pretty easy. Granted, we have not passed Daisy the cow on our way to ballet class, but we have waved hello to many other edible friends. I knew I was succeeding with my mission when upon seeing new animals, SweetPea would point to the creature going by and ask first:
What is that
followed closely with
Can we eat it?
Both girls love chicken but for SweetPea, it’s an obsession. She will choose chicken over any other food including sweets and cake any day so chicken features pretty regularly on our menu.
While eating chicken for dinner the other night:
P: Maman why can’t I see the chicken’s blood?
Me: Well they remove it before they sell us the chicken.
P: How do they remove it?
Me: They cut the chicken’s head off and hang him upside down.
(At this point I know that chickens get heads cut off and pigs are bled so I am just trying to piece this together)
P: Like this? (Showing me with her dragon piggy bank conveniently located next to her).
I nod in agreement.
P: Maman can I please do that next time we have chicken for dinner? And how do we catch a chicken?
Me, quiet worrying about a Dexter in our house.
P: And I want the chicken blood.
Me, thinking it is time to redirect this conversation: Well how about some boudin noir which is blood sausage?
The next day, I worried as we head out of the house. There’s been a trio of scrawny birds hanging out by the front of our mobaan –a cluster of houses, like a little village. I didn’t want SweetPea getting any ideas. Fortunately the chickens were so scrawny. They were like the Kate Moss of chickens: breast-less, always in black, and in need a good meal and long night of sleep. I figured she wouldn’t find them appetizing enough to want to make the kill.
Right, I must brush up on my art of butchering skills. Til the next time readers.
Forget naff exchanges about the weather and where the bank is located. These dull as dishwater language basics may be tried and tested, but the end result, as far as I can tell, is a big fat FAIL.
Instead, check out this fabulous program Karambolage. It is made up of superb animations and covers fascinating topics like the origins of Cordon Bleue or how bunnies and eggs became associated with easter.
Drawbacks? You need to sit patiently through the annoying 40 seconds of disco beats and a dismembered head floating around a black screen. Seems like a short amount of time but trust me when I tell you it feels like an eternity. (Disclaimer: part of this could be my sucky wi-fi connection). It is also only available in French and German.
We recently returned from France, which is one of many reasons my blog has been dormant. During the first breakfast after we arrived, I suddenly realized that this trip to France was going to be about much more than having an opportunity to immerse my girls in French for a place influences so much more than simply language. For me France switches off certain parts of me or at least triggers some sort of hibernation while other parts turn on. Where I am can definitely affect how I think about things, what I want to do, whether I gain weight when I eat porc fat on white bread and what I crave for breakfast.
My eldest is definitely an oatmeal/cereal girl for breakfast but when we found ourselves the first morning at my aunt’s kitchen table, it seemed simply wrong to feed her such a thing. I mean, we were in FRANCE! Cheerios in Normandy? Sacre Bleu Non! This is the land of seriously good bread. This is where you ignore the warnings of white products and you gorge yourself on an endless supply of baguettes morning, noon and night!
I told her she would be having ‘tartines et de la confiture aux groseilles’. She liked the word ‘groseilles’ so that went down well.Groseilles is one of those words that remind me how my vocabulary is seasonal and that I typically know the names of plants and fruits in French and everything else in English. Sometimes I know the words in both languages without knowing they are the same thing. So for the last 20 odd years I’ve thought that I liked ‘groseilles’ but not currants when in fact they are the same thing!
I was also determined for her to have a bol de chocolat for no reason other than I used to have it as a little girl during my summers in France. (A total milkaholic kid, the chocolate was the only way I would tolerate U.H.T milk). Drinking your coffee or hot chocolat out of a bowl is as far as I know extremely French.
Seeing her sit there holding the two little handles with a serious chocolate Dali-esque moustache, it dawned on me that I didn’t just want her to speak French, I wanted her to identify with what I perceive as some of the quintessential French experiences I grew up with during my long summers at my Grandmother’s.
I couldn’t wait for her to experience her first real ‘pain au chocolat’ straight from the ‘boulangerie’ whose incredible selections of fresh-baked patisseries always seemed magical. So much of French culture revolves around food and in my case, having grown up in an urban center, France was also my grounding in all things nature related especially the connection between land and plate. It was also such a nice change to be able to walk through the gardens and countryside and not need my pocket dictionary but just have the names of flowers and fruits to hand, to recognize the wild blackberry bushes, and have her pick her own strawberries from the ground, still warm from the sun – never at a loss for words.