Wednesday, March 10, 2010

School lunches in Paris

Hake in Basque sauce, anyone? How about an hors d'oeuvre, cheese plate, and salad with each meal? Now try picturing that on every tray in a crowded school lunchroom.

Click here to read the article.


  1. Wow, what a concept- good food and no obesity- a value taught and adopted from early years.

  2. I read the article. It is such a different culture, that it almost feels unfair to compare. In France and most of Europe, the mid-day meal is the biggest meal of the day, more like our dinner, and the evening meal is more like lunch is here. In Spain, where I've spent a lot of time, the children go home for lunch, it is a 2-3 hour break in the middle of the day, then back to school till 5 or 6pm. I don't gain weight when I live in Spain, eating mostly home cooked meals of salad, starch, protein and sometimes a vegetable. I rarely feel any interest in sweets or snacks when I am there.

    France has also been relatively homogeneous until recently. I wonder how the northern African immigrants feel about the lunch program and what they do?

  3. Yes, you're right the comparison is almost pointless since there are really too many cultural differences to name: emphasis on real foods, not eating on the go, eating with family and large groups of people, social taboos against snacking (and seconds? so I hear), and the determination to maintain a sense of leisure around meal times, just for starters. This is just so completely contrary to everything Americans believe about food where our main goals are speediness and cheapness. Ah, well, there are things we can each do in our own families to restore a sense of sanity and pleasure around eating, even if we aren't able to serve 4 courses at each meal like French school kids are getting. I have found, as a mother at home with only one child to manage right now, that two substantial meals a day work quite well at our house, plus an additional snack. For brunch we might have eggs scrambled with cheese, bacon, refried beans, lacto-fermented veggies, yogurt with granola, and fruit. This is so sustaining that snacks and "lunch" are completely unnecessary, til an early dinner time. Of course, Oliver is on a different schedule than most kids, but this works for now. It certainly must be difficult to manage all of this when children are spending most of the day away. I love the idea of having them at home for 2-3 hours for lunch and a nap during school every day -- what a brilliant arrangement! I bet a lot of those Spanish kids are also able to walk to and from school...