French Kids Eat Everything (HarperCollins 2012) is a memoir by Canadian Karen Le Billon, documents her time living in France with her French husband and two young daughters. Set in a small, coastal village in Brittany, French Kids Eat Everything recounts Le Billon’s experiences with parenting abroad, giving special focus to children’s diets.
Unlike her picky, American daughters, Le Billon was surprised to discover that most French children eat anything and everything – from broccoli to brie – without complaint (and without spilling it down their fronts). Although it takes her a while to adjust, Le Billon comes to see that French food culture is undeniably superior to the Canadian and American when it comes to integrating children’s eating habits. Although there are plenty of missteps along the way – an abundance of culinary faux pas committed – Le Billon adopts several new “food rules,” perfected by the French. Soon enough, her daughters’ pickiness is a thing of the past, and they’ve even done away with snacks in between meals altogether – an option that this writer could never come to terms with, no matter what country he lives in.
The real challenge comes when the family relocated back to America, where the family must try to maintain their newfound, French “food rules” in the midst of fast food and snack-friendly, Canadian food culture. Soon enough, Le Billon finds herself becoming “an accidental food activist,” launching a campaign to change the way North American children eat.
Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition and food studies at New York University, calls French Kids Eat Everything a “must-read for teachers and parents.” Patricia Wells, author of The Provence Cookbook calls it “humorous, as well as instructive.” Not to mention Le Billon’s credentials – she’s a Rhodes Scholar and holds a PhD from Oxford University. She is currently a professor at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. The book is published by HarperCollins in Canada and Morrow/HarperCollins in the U.S., available on shelves April 3, 2012. Piatkus, an imprint of Little, Brown will publish the book on May 3.
By Jake Flanagin