So my mom sent me an article from the latest "Time" called Postcards from Paris that talks about the food served to French children in elementary schools. It basically details how they are served a 4 course meal daily that doesn't repeat for at least 32 days, are taught proper table manners, and are allowed to take their time in eating. The foods are all made fresh. They even send home suggestions to the parents for what dinner would best complement what was served at lunch. My mom was really excited and wanted to know if Santi would get that kind of treatment when he starts school.
It made me laugh because most of that already happens at the daycare for kids under 3! Even for the babies who just eat purées! I guess if he were going to a home daycare with only one person working, it wouldn't be that way, but his center has a full-time kitchen staff. At the end of every day they tell me what he ate for his lunch and his gouter (afternoon snack), and they detail which items he seemed to like and which he didn't. I realize that he tries more new things there than he does at home (I also have learned that there are things he refuses to eat at home that he gobbles down there with no problem). The kids learn to sit at a table on little chairs and feed themselves as soon as they show an interest (they start encouraging them to give it a try around a year-old). And their food is really GOOD. What the toddlers get served looks and smells much better than what I eat for lunch, that's for sure. Even the purées for the babies taste like real, grown-up food (part of helping Santi get used to attending the center involved me feeding him meals there several times, so I got a chance to sneak a taste of various menus).
I just now learned through a google search that the "mairie" (town hall) for our district has a section of their webpage with the menu of the week for every public school in its jurisdiction, from preschool to high school. Not only does it list what the children are eating (again, it sounds much better and more imaginative than what I eat), but there are also links that take you to pictures and explanations of all of the products that are used in the menu, and other links with information about general nutrition and health issues. I've already learned the names, regions of origin, production methods, and nutritional data on 12 kinds of cheese (and I think that's only half of those on the menu).
I'm feeling a little insecure culinarily now! How can I compete? He'll be the kid who'd rather eat at the cafeteria than at home!
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