There are a lot of good things about being a parent: the hugs, the kisses, the eternal love, etc. But then…………there are the bad things. Like the smirky look on your kid’s face as sage advice you so freely dole out comes back to bite you in the ass.
Before we moved to France, I would often tell my kids when they were presented with food they didn’t necessarily like, “Being an adventurous eater in life is really important. How are you going to travel around the world if you will only eat hotdogs? They don’t serve hotdogs in Thailand.”
This is especially great advice when you live in the US and you are trying to feed your kids something like a different variety of sliced bread. In addition, I also used to also say things like, “It’s rude not to eat something when it’s served to you. Put a smile on your face and suck it up.” Also really good advice. Sometimes.
Here’s the main trouble……..we now live in France. Since our arrival, my kids have turned into the adventurous eaters that I had always hoped they’d be. As you may remember, they eat a four course meal every day at school and they are served any number of strange food items that they’ve never had before. At school they are served mussles, veal, beef with olive sauce, squid, and loads of stinky cheese, among many other things.
But here’s the catch – I could eat cheese morning, noon, and night, but when it comes to meat I’m a closet vegetarian. It’s not that I have any sort of moral or ethical opposition to eating meat, it’s just that I really don’t like it and I never really have. Every once in a while I’ll break down and have a good burger, but most days I would much rather eat a whole pot of squash soup. But in a country like France, there is not only an abundance of cheese, but also an abundance of meat. Foie gras is just the tip of the big meat iceburg. One trip to the open air market downtown will expose you to more animal body parts than you even knew existed and the French eat them all with gusto. And now my kids do too.
I actually had a French friend say to me recently, “I can’t understand why anyone would be a…………..what do you call that……..when somebody only eats vegetables? Oh yes, a vegetarian! That doesn’t make any sense.” I did not take that opportunity to share my personal feelings on the subject. I just stuffed more cheese in my mouth.
My boys haven’t exactly used the “adventurous eater” guilt against me yet, but it is only a matter of time before they realized that I’m always hiding behind the wheel of cheese and avoiding the lamb. I think I may start to call myself something that the French might understand – a cheesatarian.
To demonstrate what adventurous eaters my kids have become, I’ll share with you a conversation we had recently while walking home from school:
Eamon: The lunch at school today was so gross. It was this beef stuff with this really gross sauce all over it. I couldn’t eat it.
Owen: That’s funny, I kind of liked it……………..
Me: What was it? Do you know?
Eamon: I have no idea, but it was so gross that Maxence barfed at lunch when he ate it.
Owen: Yeah, that part of the day was pretty gross.
Me: Oh no! Was he feling sick before lunch too?
Eamon: No, he just tasted the lunch, he didn’t like it, and then barfed on the table.
Me: Yikes! Did his parents have to come get him?
Eamon: No, the lunch lady just cleaned it up and then Maxence ate his dessert.
Me: Oh gross! What did you guys do while all of this was happening?
Owen: I just kept eating – I thought the lunch was really good!
Eamon: I just ate my dessert during it all. Mum, I can assure you, if you tasted the lunch, you wouldn’t have liked it either.
I’m pretty sure he’s right.
Here is the meat that almost hit me in the face as I walked around the corner of the truck – a terrible sight for a cheesatarian.