My family’s tomato soup episode was one of those final moments when I knew we were in trouble at the table. I had heard the husband strike a bargain with our 7 year-old Picky-a-saurus. Whatever treat the child was requesting could be had after he ate and finished his cream of tomato soup. OK, the kid says. And I know this will not end well.

Sure enough, there were tears aplenty and extra drama( partly from hunger) all for the fear of this unknown food. And it was one of the most uncomfortable un-enjoyable meals I have ever endured. It was a train wreck in which I avoided eye contact with both parties. The child would surely throw me a “Save me Mommy” look and I was furious at my man for orchestrating the ruined dinner.

In the end, my husband won and ultimately proved he was in charge. The kid ate the soup and I was slightly impressed. He had submitted to my husband’s authority. Although I still didn’t think this was the way to prove who was in charge, I admitted he’s gotten us over a hump. And what did the child learn?  He will forever hate tomato soup, you do what your parents tell you or else, and food has nothing to do with nourishing your body or your soul.

Here in America, I’m sure each of us knows, and probably cares about, someone with a food “problem”. The American eating model is disrespectful of our bodies, our boundaries, and our earth. It seems something was broken while we busily prospered. We zipped and zoomed and became disengaged from prioritizing our health and families. And I was seeing these problems surface right there at my dinner table. And I had a problem with that.

While I passed the new books section at the library, my eyes were ensnared by the title of Karen Le Billon’s shiny new book, French Kids Eat Everything. I thought I’d learn a tip or two perusing this tome. I was wrong. This book would mean more to me than a tip or two. Despite my lack of time for reading, not only did I read it cover to cover, I would adopt a whole new philosophy on feeding and parenting in the process. And I learned that, despite a propensity to be bossy rude know-it-alls, the French have a happening food philosophy and system that is respectful of their bodies, their families, and their land, and their economy. Sound too good to be true? It is and I want it all.

This post  is a prelude to a review cum series of the new(ish) book by Karen Le Billon titled French Kids Eat Everything. Rarely do I come across a book that makes me go “aha” so many times and  I felt this one was worth sharing as much of as I wanted. Her personal family food journey, moving from Vancouver to Brittany, France and back, is both an honest memoir and an education of how to take back the authority you never saw yourself giving away. Moms, ask for this book for Christmas!

Next Saturday: Trouble at the Table Part II or The Ten French Food Rules and why Americans wouldn’t think of them.

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  1. Ah, the food battles. Don’t worry, I think food and authority issues can be very kid specific even in the context of not the healthiest cultural norms. I have friends who had super authoritarian parents and they are none the worse for it and super spoiled friends who similarly turned out completely fine. This may not be the beginning of a “tomato soup is evil” association. 🙂 Especially since it sounds like you’re revamping the whole family’s relationship with food. Can’t wait to hear about it.

    1. The prime directive of a mother is the survival of the baby. As a new Mom, I was so whacked out I had no confidence and crumbled quickly when the games began. The French pediatricians warn the parents of the children’s impending food neophobia. We stupid headed Americans continually ask our children permission to parent them. And we wonder why our prisons are full of men who need boundaries. So I have a second chance with the belly baby. Poisson puree, yummy.
      Thanks for your support Ms. Ish.

  2. The book sounds interesting, children go through so many stages, and I know there was a period when mine survived on vegemite sandwiches and apples for months on end. It drove me insane convinced they were going to die of malnutrition! Visiting from BYW.

    1. Thanks for visiting Janine. Hope you return for tonight’s second installment of Trouble at the Table when I do a fabulous job of actually reviewing French Kid’s Eat Everything. The author of the book actually retweeted my last piece.So we’ll see what she thinks of my review.

  3. You’ve already inspired me to put this one on my nightstand and make sure I read it. I really believe that mealtime should be one of those magical moments of the day for families – not the circus it often devolves into … and can’t wait to read more of your series!

    H xo

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