Monday, April 29, 2013

The Nutella Principle...

One of the key attributes and wonders of French parenting is their ability to instill in their off spring a pleasure and respect for food and all the elements of enjoying it.

Our latest young guest was a prime example, trying everything put in front of him, eating with grave dignity and assessing all the new processes & flavours he encountered. Now if that all sounds a bit twee,  bear in mind that his dietary experience, as an English language  immersion student, stretched across a full English breakfast,  Scott's porridge, the span of a good Balti curry with all the ancillary trimmings and even mushy peas! And with all, he considered discussed and held conversation about the item, quite something when you think of the textures & flavours of our mixed cultural food.

Whilst many English children would not consider fresh seafood ('insects form the sea') or sausages made from offal (eating with your senses, in this case smell), French children will, it seems try everything. Their passion for all things related 'a table' means they don't worry if the texture is 'like baby food' or question whether its a sauce or soup.

Made me think of a German/American exchange student who stayed with us  in England some years ago. Prior to his arrival we were told he ate nothing but Nutella for any and all meals. Now this is a healthy enough option within a balanced diet, but sometimes even things that are good for you,to excess, can be bad. With his parents permission and after a couple of  days of no Nutella & when he had run out of snack bars, he started to try everything. Result a balanced socially functioning young man, who sat at the table & conversed while he ate & enjoyed his many meals with us.

So it was that this week we sat in a local French restaurant and watched transfixed as a grandma and her small grandchild partook of their mid day meal. The small girl sitting in a high chair was only about three years old,but  was, trusted with, and used to perfection, a knife & fork and a glass for her water. She did not throw or mess with  her food. If the fork was difficult to handle,she picked up the frite & placed it  on the prongs. She sipped her water carefully, replacing the glass precisely and then took her serviette to dab her mouth was delightful. And all this whilst talking to her grandmother & observing the French etiquette of putting her cutlery down whilst talking or chewing.
I can't imagine many English children achieving this at that tender age, but for her it was expected, this is what you do.
I think sometimes we forget if we don't expect certain standards & behaviours we will never get them.

But just in case it seems as though there is no hope for the children of the UK I finish on the the little village in Staffordshire, where I support the French lesson and take in items and  food stuffs so they can experience the French culture.It seems that our planet or at least Europe is becoming smaller. because, when tasting various French foods, the children asked, " Yes but how do you say pain au chocolat in French"?
So perhaps if you don't look for differences you don't find them