Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Kids' Crème Brulée

A recent article in TIME Magazine left me smiling. In France, while certain government programs and benefits are being slashed in order to reduce the national deficit, the school lunch programs remain intact. This is no accident.

In times past, it was common for schoolchildren, as well as their parents, to go home for a long, relaxed lunch break -- and the noon meal was generally the main meal of the day. Not even France, however, has remained unaffected by the acceleration of daily life and a more hectic lifestyle, which means a majority of schools now serve lunch.

And we're not talking hamburgers and tater tots.

Variety is important, so no single meal is repeated during an entire 32-day period. In the case of young children, the kids are seated at tables and required to put on their best table manners while workers serve them a five-course meal: an hors d'oeuvre, salad, the main course, a cheese plate, and dessert. Not only this, but the school sends home recommendations to the parents for the evening menu to ensure not only variety but well balanced meals.

The point here is not to make fun of the French; heaven knows we could learn a lesson here. But every culture has elements it considers non-negotiables -- what are the non-negotiables in your culture?