Eating Around the World – France

Cheese Souffle
You might have noticed we’ve had a short break due to holidays and Halloween.  But we’re back with Eating Around the World this week.  I hadn’t realised how much this little project has had an effect on the boys, particularly The Fireman who is now almost 5.  His teacher told us at parents evening that he mentions the different countries and the meals he eats.  So for me this is definitely a project that’s staying and a project that may be developed a little more. I’ve had some really lovely, positive feedback on this project too.

Those who have been reading these Eating Around the World posts from the beginning will remember we started this idea as a way of discovering new foods and tastes together as a family.  We are lucky in that our boys are not particularly fussy eaters, although at times they can be difficult. For the boys there are so many flavours and ingredients they haven’t yet tasted as they are still quite young and there’s a lot out there in the world!  I thought maybe if we all tried new things together, they might accept trying new things a little better, as none of us really know what to expect.  It might also give us grown-ups an idea of what a child is going through each time they try something new and allow us to have a little more understanding. Of course there is no rush to get them eating every ingredient under the sun, I personally could not stand the thought of olives until I was 18 and still at the age of 31 struggle eating tinned baked beans, however we are merely providing them with an opportunity.

To engage the boys a little more and not to focus TOO strongly on food I try to incorporate a little bit of info about the country and also a craft.  It has to be simple as they are only aged 3 and 4 and also we do this project on a school night when potentially they are quite tired.

I really believe that this approach to food is a positive one.  As such I’ve decided to develop it further with a mind to setting up it’s own blog, no doubt it’ll be titled something highly original like, ‘Eating Around the World’.  Each week I will post recipes, background info and simple crafts, along with tips that work for us as a family, which may be useful to you too. Please check back soon to find out more.

Anyway on to this week’s country, France. Although I did mention to the boys that a traditional meal in France could be snails, even I could not face that.  If I was in a restaurant and they were cooked for me, then maybe yes I’d try them, but I’m not really up for cooking them myself. So we chose a cheese souffle as it is a traditional family meal.  Souffle is derived from the french verb souffler which means ‘to blow up’.  I think it’s normal to feel a little nervous at the thought of souffle, I certainly did.
Souffle prep
I just made sure I had plenty of time to plan and prepare ingredients and all was fine.  Simply put, if you make sure you get enough air into the mixture, you will certainly get a nicely risen souffle, as the air will expand when in the oven.  Saying that, mine didn’t rise hugely, I think we often have an expectation of something towering above its baking dish, wobbling towards the dinner table, which is not the case.
fruity nutty salad
We served the souffle with some vegetable crudites and a salad.  The Farmer only really eats cucumber when it comes to salad, but I added grapes, pear and nuts into this one, which he loved.  The Fireman will happily eat cucumber and tomatoes and even ate the lettuce with this meal.  The thing he really liked was that I put the food onto the table and let him serve himself, you should have seen the mountain of salad he gave himself! He ate it all too.  As for the souffle, they were not that keen, the grown-ups enjoyed it.  The boys tried it, probably ate half of it, so I can’t grumble at that.  Does anyone else’s children complain of being tired when there’s something they don’t want to eat? I’m not sure what it is they didn’t like, I think possibly it was the texture. Although they did then suggest maybe if was strawberry flavoured they might like it….
Plum Clafoutis
For dessert I made a plum clafoutis, they smothered it in creme fraiche and ate the lot, the table was surprisingly quiet and The Farmer was no longer tired. I will definitely make this again, maybe with different fruits.  I think traditionally as a family dessert, cherries would have been used, but cherries seem quite expensive and not especially seasonal. I think peaches would be lovely, the boys suggested banana, I’m not so sure about that.

Here’s the Plum Clafoutis recipe

  • 500g plums, doesn’t matter too much which type, not too hard though
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla essence or half tsp of vanilla paste
  • 20g butter, melted
  • 20g plain flour
  • 50ml milk
  • 75ml double cream

Cut plums in half and de-stone, then place cut side up in a baking dish which is big enough to leave a little space around each plum.  Sprinkle over 50g of the caster sugar and leave to macerate for about 2 hours. Whisk the eggs, remaining sugar and vanilla together.  Melt the butter and stir into the egg mixture, then whisk in the flour until smooth.  Stir in the milk and cream, then pour over the plums and place in a pre-heated oven at 180c for 30mins, it may need a little longer, if there is a dip in the middle it may need a little longer cooking


La Tour Eiffel
I showed the boys some photos of the Eiffel Tower, mentioned a little bit about Paris and suggested we could try and build our own Eiffel tower out of Lego.  Lego is always a winner.  I started it off with them, The Fireman was concentrating hard on it’s structure, The Farmer was just happy to sit in the Lego and build anything, fine with me. After a good 45mins of building The Fireman suggested watching A Monster in Paris as he’s seen the Eiffel Tower in that, sneaky eh?  I agreed though that a bit of TV time sounded good. This is a lovely film by the way.

Next week Malaysia, see you then.