Adam Gopnik, one of my all-time favorite writers (and a long-time staff writer for the New Yorker), spent several years living in France in the 1990s. His New Yorker essays from that period were published in Paris to the Moon (still one of my favorite books about France).
Gopnik is publishing a new book this month, titled “The Table Comes First: Family, France, and the Meaning of Food.” This is mainly a collection of some of his New Yorker articles, with some new, additional material. His main argument is that our current obsession with food culture has gone astray. As the French (and many other traditional food cultures) know, it’s not only what is on the table that is important, but also who is around the table. Breaking bread together is one of the most important things we can do to build healthy communities (as well as healthy bodies).
That’s precisely what we found when we moved to France. In the little village where we lived, eating well was something that everyone did. We were many hours (and, culturally, light years) away from Paris, so this was not about ‘big city’, elite food culture. Rather, eating well was about celebrating people and place, friends and family, and life together. That spirit is what motivated me to write ‘French Kids Eat Everything’: the realization that good food is for everyone, not just foodies!