School lunches in France

Starter Main Chees Pudding

I always tell people that one of the things that worried me most when we decided to move lock stock and barrel to France was our children and how the move would affect their lives. As it turned out, it was the best thing we could have done for them, providing them with a much better quality of life, huge amounts of freedom and broadened horizons as well as, of course, a second language. We also discovered that children are incredibly adaptable, quick to learn and in fact settled in much more easily than we did.

The contrasts between our lives here and the life they would have had in the UK are huge but none is more obvious than the quality of the food and the culture of eating. This has been well and truly brought home to me in the last month with our youngest daughter starting secondary school or college as it is here. While I have spent her first few weeks worrying about the early starts, the school bus, the long days and the homework, my daughter clearly has different preoccupations. Every day, she has been taking photographs of her delicious school lunches for me to enjoy while I chomp on my apple between viewings! And I am jealous; see above – starter, main course, salad, cheese and pudding and this is just one meal on one day; I wouldn’t be at all surprised to spot a carafe of wine somewhere in the photo.

I couldn’t be happier about this; it is one of my great soapbox subjects, the lack of interest in or education about food and nutrition in UK schools, the constant debate about increasing obesity and the fact that the obvious link is just not being made when it is so clearly the result of a generation of children who have been brought up with no education and hence knowledge of how to feed themselves well. This generation now has children of its own and has no cooking or nutrition skills to hand on and hence we are stuck in a downward spiral.

Thank goodness, the same cannot be said in France; at our primary school I am always amused that at every school meeting, most of the discussion focuses  around the lunch menus and I am delighted that, at my daughter’s new school, there is a great emphasis on using local, seasonal and organic produce and serving this in balanced and delicious meals. Moreover, at home, children see their parents cooking fresh meals every day and it is the norm for every family sits down to eat together at least once a day if not twice (50% of the children at our primary school go home for lunch.)

I know this has nothing to do with property but to me it has everything to do with living in France and understanding the French culture and underlines yet again why we are here.

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