Yummy French Kids’ School Lunches…This week in the heart of Flanders

France’s far north is one of the least touristy spots in the country. Beautiful beaches line the coast, but deindustrialization, high unemployment, and generally grey weather haven’t helped the region’s reputation in the last few decades. Still, it remains France’s industrial powerhouse, centered on the city of Lille (not far from the famed First World War battlefields).

The warmth and charm of ‘les shtis‘ (as northern French are known) was captured in the very funny 2008 film ‘Welcome to the Sticks’, about a French bureaucrat posted to the far north as punishment by his boss, only to find friendship and community he never found in southern France.

So, what are kids eating in Lille this week? The menus are made up of the usual four courses, and feature lots of dairy products (the signature ingredients of traditional French cuisine).

Monday, December 12th
Cheese tarte
Turkey scallop with curry sauce and green beans
Yogurt velouté (extra creamy and smooth style)
Fresh Fruit

Tuesday, December 13th
Crudités (raw, sliced vegetables)
Mushroom omelette
Gruyère cheese
Caramel flan and butter cookies

Wednesday, December 14th
Endive and apple salad
Chicken sausage with carrot puree
Saint-Paulin cheese (a cheese originally made by Trappist monks)
Fresh fruit

Thursday, December 15th
Special Seafood Menu
Sprouts and citrus salad with raspberry dressing
Shrimp and salmon seafood balls (like meatballs, but made with fish), in seafood broth
Saffron rice and carrots
Mont des Cats cheese (this one is still made by Trappist monks in an abbey not far from Lille!)
Ice-cream

Friday, December 16th
Green lettuce salad
Roast pork, brussels sprouts, and potatoes
Camembert cheese
Fresh fruit

Now, when was the last time that your kids ate brussels sprouts for lunch at school? And even if we dared to serve them, who would eat them? One thing I love about French school lunches is that everything is so wonderfully prepared that most children are primed to savor all of the food. When parents pick their children up at the end of the day, the first thing they say is: “How did you enjoy your lunch today?”

This blog post is part of my French Kids School Lunch Project. Every week, I post the school lunch menus from a different village or town in France, where three-course, freshly-prepared hot lunches are provided to over 6 million children in the public school system every day. These meals cost, on average, $3 per child per day (and prices for low-income families are subsidised). My hope is that these menus (together with my other blog posts about the French approach to kid’s food) will spark a conversation about what children CAN eat, and how we can do better at educating them to eat well.

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