Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Baby's first food in France


malika
 Share

Recommended Posts

I'm the mother of an almost-six-month-old, and I'm thinking a lot about how to raise a daughter with a good palette. Rice cereal (the traditional first food in America) doesn't seem like a good start-- I certainly wouldn't eat it very happily.

So I'm wondering about other countries and other traditions-- What's the traditional first food for babies in France?

(I'm also going to post this in the following forums: Italy, Spain, Japan, India, China, Middle East, and Mexico. Apologies to those who run across this question in other places!)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We've just had the pleasure of watching our niece here in France start with solid foods. She starts meat tomorrow. Lets see. Her first solid food was a vegetable - carrots. She then went to green beans, and then pumpkin, etc.

Now they feed her several different things at each meal, the veggies first, then a bottle which they are slowly phasing out, and then a fruit compote. Typical baby food. My sister in law feeds the baby from store bought pots.

Other friends use a combination steamer/blender, a lovely little contraption that I will definitely get once we have children. You steam whatever veggies/meat in it and flip it over and blend it in the same receptacle with the steaming juice. It was a snap, and when we were visiting with them, she prepared all of his food from mixes of vegetables she had picked herself. Her son was just starting with meat at around 6 months and his first meat was duck which she prepared in a vegetable puree. They supplemented that with a formula/cereal bottle at the time.

Another couple with a 6 month old gave their son vegetable soup, and then various purees.

Strange but many of the babies (around 6 months) simply adore artichoke heart puree.

None of my French friends seemed to breastfeed for very long. But I don't really know in general what the fashion is these days in France.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In France I suppose wheat cereal (cream of wheat) is preferred to rice cereal. Later, a very fine granular type of pasta (Floraline) is given to babies. It has a fine texture, slightly coarser than wheat semolina.

My son and I cannot, I believe, be considered typical examples. I breast-fed for nine months, which is unusual. I was unemployed at that time and did not have much else to do. Working moms don't usually make it more than three months; had I been a working mom then, I suppose I'd have done it at least longer than three months because I did not trust processed milks. When we both got tired of it, he already had started solid foods long ago, first cream of wheat and puréed vegetables, and boiled farm cow's milk (we lived in Normandy). In France (and maybe elsewhere), early initiation to vegetables goes by a color code: first the yellow vegs (carrot, squash), then the green (green beans, spinach, zucchini), then everything else (potato, beet, artichoke, leek, etc.). Then slowly we started introducing finely ground chicken or fish, then meat.

I also introduced him to cereals: everyday a different porridge — untoasted oatmeal, toasted oatmeel, corn, rice, wheat, chestnut, buckwheat. And pure farmhouse Norman butter. And plenty of home-made yogurt. Later, he developed his own disgusts and cravings, and for instance decided he would hate carrots till the end of time, but I was expecting that and did not force him into eating anything he didn't like. Now he's a fully-grown gourmet.

After six months, I began puréeing a bit of most any food I had cooked for adults and gave him tiny spoonfuls of it. Whether it was spiced, strong-tasting, cooked in wine, etc., did not matter: it was important for me to get him accustomed to as many tastes as possible. I think taste education is tremendously important for children; I do believe that developing the sense of taste and smell does help the child develop his own capacity of choice in all other matters as he grows older, and it helps him avoid excesses too, by developing a sense of measure.

So I was extremely careful in letting him experience various tastes and flavors early in his life. I do not think my case is typical, but I also do believe it is in the French tradition of food education. Long ago, in rural parts of France, tiny kids were treated with tiny bits of strong foods - garlic, stinky cheeses, etc. - and even a drop of wine in order to get them ready for the tastes of their adult life. Nobody ever died from that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Now he's a fully-grown gourmet.

Well, that's the goal after all Pti. Bravo!

I can contribute very little (as usual). But I should repeat what I and Felice have noted, that a book released recently on School Food says a lot about what the French consider food for school age kids - the reference is Cantines : Recettes cultes corrigées par les chefs (Broché) de Sebastien Demorand - that is School Cafeteria Recipes updated by the chefs, such as David Zuddas, Pierre Gagnaire and Pierre Hermé.

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm the mother of an almost-six-month-old, and I'm thinking a lot about how to raise a daughter with a good palette. Rice cereal (the traditional first food in America) doesn't seem like a good start-- I certainly wouldn't eat it very happily.

So I'm wondering about other countries and other traditions-- What's the traditional first food for babies in France?

(I'm also going to post this in the following forums: Italy, Spain, Japan, India, China, Middle East, and Mexico. Apologies to those who run across this question in other places!)

I report the following from a daughter who has lived in New Zealand, France & the US and managed the transition from breast milk to solid food for her own babies in that age range in all three countries and now works as a nurse advising new mothers in the inner city: "In the US and NZ, rice cereal with breast milk is the traditional advice but since I hate it and my kids rejected it, I wasn't about to waste precious breast milk on it. So I started with pureed, like the devil, yellow squash and/or sweet potatoes and added new vegetables one at a time. A change over the years is that while we, as children, were started at three weeks, it soon became 4-6 months, but now is suggested only after 6 months to reduce the risk of allergies and ensure kids' digestive systems can handle complex foods. We may be slower (9 months) than the French to add eggs and meat. It's also not thought that you should begin with fruit because then kids get used to its sweetness and want them over less sweet vegetables."

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The only reason rice cereal is introduced first is because very few humans are allergic to rice.

Bit of advice: even though you may give your baby all these wonderful home prepared foods (I did), once they make up their mind that they don't like something, it may take at least 17 years for them to actually try it again!

Paris is a mood...a longing you didn't know you had, until it was answered.

-An American in Paris

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can't hardly accurately remember that far back in time when our daughter was a new born. Today she is a culinary professional having staged in one of NY's best restaurants, gone on to head up a pastry kitchen at another, wrote a few articles on food and finally moved to publishing where she edits cookbooks. She does have one of the best palates of anyone I know in, or outside, the professional culinary world. I mean to imply that she has both good taste and the ability to discern the various flavor components in a dish or tastes in a glass of wine. We followed our pediatrician's advice which was cereal after mother's milk was not enough to hold her between feedings and until she was old enough to eat from our table. It started, of course, with pureed versions of the vegetables and then meat we were having and went on to small bites of the same, starting with the softer foods she could gum even before she had much in the way of teeth. She was breast fed longer than most kids of her generation, although perhaps not long enough to be considered ideal. My wife also had an infection early on that required antibiotics. That meant moving from breast milk while she was taking antibiotics. It was evidently too early for cow's milk as our daughter turned bright red/orange with white spots at the first taste of it. Our solution was a short period of soy formula. Less than ideal, but at least not an allergen. Fortunately my wife pumped away and could return to breast feeding. We avoided as much in the way of unnatural additives in our food at the time anyway and became increasing conscious of avoiding artificial stuff.

Today she is also the mother of a fine son. She continued to breast feed well after her maternity leave was up, although it was a chore. She's also more conscious of additives and far more inclined to pay for organic food where her son is concerned. She's also far more into whole grains than I was, or am. In general, she followed our pattern of introducing the foods she and her chef husband ate, although she more consciously considered nutrition as well as taste. She also had a good chart suggesting the age at which certain foods should be introduced into an infant's diet to reduce the possibility of allergic reaction. This, in turn influenced the family meals. By no means should it be implied that our grandson was fed less than gastronomic baby food. At an early age his beans were pureed with extra virgin olive oil and bacon or pancetta.

His other grandparents are French, and at two and a half months shy of his third birthday, he just returned from his second trip to France where his major complaint was the absence of squid on menus. Not until he ate at an upscale restaurant in Paris did he find octopus, which is an acceptable substitute for him. It was in a rather spicy sauce, but met with his approval. Breton Andouille, is anothr of his favorite foods.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good to have you back Bux and get your historical perspective which has made this Forum so interesting. You raise an issue that probably deserves a whole new thread; how do our kids, that is, the progeny of seriously mentally obsessed food mavens, develop their exquisite taste buds and contrariwise, how do some of us who had seriously food-challenged mothers, develop, what we egotistically think, at least, are fine palates? Personal confession: my two daughters both ate the same food prepared by one excellent permanent cook and one pretentious occasional chef; both did latency-age and adolescent stages in France; one went to the French Culinary Institute, the other to the over-cooked, under-spiced wasteland that (sorry, Kiwis) constitutes New Zealand - guess who can turn out a moelleux of chocolat that beats all the others here?

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Similar Content

    • By dcarch
      Happy Bastille Day!
       
      As I was thinking of cooking something appropriate for today and have the music playing in the background. 
      I thought the lyrics of the France National Anthem can be slightly modified and used against the covid-19 tyranny. 
       
      I did make crepe for breakfast, but have not decided what to make for dinner. May be I will make something for tomorrow.
       
      Anyone have ideas?
       
      dcarch
       
       
    • By bleudauvergne
      Clafoutis de Fevettes au Parmesean et Basilic
      Serves 4 as Main Dishor 6 as Side.
      This recipe appears in French in issue no. 140 of the Saveurs magazine as part of a series of recipes accompanying an article on 'primeurs', or local vegetables that appear at the markets only during the first few weeks of Spring.
      It can be prepared with feves that have been frozen fresh, but I would not recommend using dried beans.
      This recipe should work fine with both American all purpose and French type 55 flour, as the quantity called for is slight in comparison to the other ingredients.

      500 g fresh young feves
      4 eggs
      20 cl milk
      10 cl heavy cream (liquid)
      70 g freshly grated parmesean
      2 T flour
      1 small bouquet of basil
      1/2 tsp salt
      1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
      fresh ground white pepper

      Preheat your oven to 160 C / 320 F.
      Blanche the feves a large pot of boiling salted water and refresh in cold water. Drain and reserve.
      Combine the eggs, the milk and cream in a large bowl and beat until well combined.
      Wash and dry the basil, remove the leaves from the stems and mince it finely.
      Add the salt, the flour, the parmesean, the pepper, the grated nutmeg, and the freshly minced basil. Add the young feves.
      Butter a clafoutis dish (noted in the recipe as 'un plat a clafoutis', but which a deep sided 10" square dish such as a corningwear would work, or a large loaf pan), give the batter a last mix, pour it into the pan, and put it in the pre-heated oven. Bake for approximately 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the center seems firm when you shake the pan.
      Serve it hot or cold, with a simple roquette salad or with chicken, rabbit, or veal. Goes well with a good rose champagne.
      Keywords: Main Dish, French, Appetizer, Hors d'oeuvre, Easy
      ( RG1243 )
    • By bleudauvergne
      Clafoutis de Fevettes au Parmesean et Basilic
      Serves 4 as Main Dishor 6 as Side.
      This recipe appears in French in issue no. 140 of the Saveurs magazine as part of a series of recipes accompanying an article on 'primeurs', or local vegetables that appear at the markets only during the first few weeks of Spring.
      It can be prepared with feves that have been frozen fresh, but I would not recommend using dried beans.
      This recipe should work fine with both American all purpose and French type 55 flour, as the quantity called for is slight in comparison to the other ingredients.

      500 g fresh young feves
      4 eggs
      20 cl milk
      10 cl heavy cream (liquid)
      70 g freshly grated parmesean
      2 T flour
      1 small bouquet of basil
      1/2 tsp salt
      1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
      fresh ground white pepper

      Preheat your oven to 160 C / 320 F.
      Blanche the feves a large pot of boiling salted water and refresh in cold water. Drain and reserve.
      Combine the eggs, the milk and cream in a large bowl and beat until well combined.
      Wash and dry the basil, remove the leaves from the stems and mince it finely.
      Add the salt, the flour, the parmesean, the pepper, the grated nutmeg, and the freshly minced basil. Add the young feves.
      Butter a clafoutis dish (noted in the recipe as 'un plat a clafoutis', but which a deep sided 10" square dish such as a corningwear would work, or a large loaf pan), give the batter a last mix, pour it into the pan, and put it in the pre-heated oven. Bake for approximately 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the center seems firm when you shake the pan.
      Serve it hot or cold, with a simple roquette salad or with chicken, rabbit, or veal. Goes well with a good rose champagne.
      Keywords: Main Dish, French, Appetizer, Hors d'oeuvre, Easy
      ( RG1243 )
    • By Drew777
      I'm a Brit. I'm also a closet Frenchman.  To cap it all, I'm happily retired in Bangkok, the city of a street food culture that's second to none. The Thais are healthy and slim. I'm just this side of alive and far from slim. Lockdown has me fantasizing about my days working in London, Paris and New York, an existence, if one could call it that, revolving around gastronomy of one kind or another. They paid me, not so very much as it happens, to do what I enjoy doing most in life. We all get to do it, but I was one of a fortunate few who made it his metier. Well all that's in the past now, but I still dream of my time in Paris when lunch was a tad short of 2-hours, little-known local bistros remained affordable until the day they were discovered by La Bible (Michelin Guide) and the students were revolting - this was the summer of '68, for heaven's sake. Someone should open bistro here in Bangkok with a table d'hote of Soupe a l'Oignon gratinee, Blanquette de Veau, a stinky Epoisses and Tarte Tatin to finsih with creme fraiche. Ah, it's back to lockdown and pad Thai. 
    • By TexasMBA02
      After batting about .500 with my previous approach to macarons, I came across Pierre Herme's base recipe online.  After two flawless batches of macarons, I've been re-energized to continue to work at mastering them.  Specifically, I want to try more of his recipes.  My conundrum is that he has, as far as I can tell, two macaron cookbooks and I don't know which one I should get.  I can't tell if one is just an updated version of the other or a reissue or what the differences really are.  I was hoping somebody had some insight.  I have searched online and haven't seen both books referenced in the same context or contrasted at all.
       
      This one appears to be older.

       
      And this one appears to be the newer of the two.

       
      Any insight would be helpful.
       
      Thanks,
       
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...