Monday, March 22, 2010
Not a juice box in sight
Isla has an unrelenting hatred of the cantine, the lunch room, at her school. I can't blame her really, because it is obvious they want her palate and they want it now, while it's still young and pliable.
But seriously, when I try to get to the bottom of it, I ask her in my most non-threatening voice, why, why, why she complains so much about the cantine, she says:
"Because they always give me yucky food there."
Granted, I have never eaten at Isla's school cantine, but I am having trouble believing her.
One obvious reason for doubting my dear daughter is because she is a bit of a liar.
Another is because, what the French don't know is that Isla already has a very discriminating palate. And by discriminating, I don't mean distinguished. Her palate essentially discriminates against anything that doesn't taste, smell, or look like chocolate, doesn't consist of at least 50 percent sugar, or isn't French fries. All other food is it is basically stupid, poopy, yucky food.
"Ca c'est pas bon! Je n'aime pas!"
In essence, it might be too late for her. She might just be too far gone, too far off keel, despite all that wheat germ I put in her Yo baby yogurts, and all that spinach I still sneak into her pesto, to be righted. Yet, just when I'm starting to fear scurvy or some other sign of grave nutritional deficiency, she turns up at the dinner table and starts shoving broccoli, or Saag Paneer (curried spinach) into her cake hole with fervor.
French schools are known for their, how do I say, superior culinary offerings. Lunch is not so much a vehicle for sustenance as it is an opportunity to learn about the finer things in life. Short of wine with their meal, French school lunches are sophisticated affairs.
The French do not treat children like uncivilized babies whose digestive systems, and imaginations, can't handle anything more savory than tater tots and chicken fingers. Instead, they see children as deliciously -blank slates on whom to test their most daring culinary concoctions, including these:
Among them, at least the things I can kind of translate: lentils, beef curry, celery root remoulade, red cabbage viniagrette, carrots with parsely, steamed leeks with fines herbs, beets and corn, spinach in cream sauce, oriental fish, lamb...
This, for example, tray of moules frites (mussels and fries), artichoke, plain yogurt, none of that neon crap here, and flan, is not something you see being served to four year old's everywhere.
But I've got a feeling Isla's problem with lunch has more to do with the company than it does with food.
"But I don't like being away from Sofie," she says, when pressed. Sofie is her teacher.
"Why can't Sofie come with me to lunch?"
"The same reason I like you to eat lunch at school, sometimes, Isla, Sofie needs a break." (Sofie has 29 four and five-year-olds in her class.)
"Well that's stupid."
Tonight, in bed, she was going on, and on, about how much she hates the cantine and how she cries to Sofie whenever Sofie tells her she has to go, and she doesn't understand why Sofie doesn't just call me when she tells her she doesn't want to go to the Cantine and I said,
"Isla, that's not going to happen! You go to the cantine on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, three days a week, and that isn't going to change, so stop wishing it would be different."
Okay, Mummy," she said, kissing me. "That's very kind of you."
Not only does my girl have a discriminating palate, she's obviously got a rather discriminating ear as well.
For more insight into the psyche of my second- born, along with a story about the boy next door, click here.