I was fortunate to have been directed to this beautiful and utterly inspiring Blog <FRENCH FOODIE BABY> that is packed full of lovely and approachable foods as well as a wealth of information! I appreciate so much the inspiration and advice the Author freely and generously offers ..it is a great Blog to settle in for an afternoon read and leave feeling wiser and highly inspired! In the French Foodie Baby one main point that really stuck with me and at the same time challenged my thinking as I could not wrap my head around it ..was the idea of a four course meal.
The four course meal concept is very European ..you start with a small first plate, usually a vegetable something that will get you salivating ..then the main course ..then a cheese course ..and finishing with a sweet bite! Being in North America and only experiencing this order of eating in a restaurant I found the whole thing really, a little bit much! ..I mean why bother doing this at home ?
Well, after pondering this concept for some time ..I started implementing it quite unintentionally! You see my son had gotten to the sad state of totally refusing cheese ..and because meats and fish were also a huge challenge cheese was that all important source of protein that he needed ..so I was desperate! After implementing a cheese taste trial <FOR THE LOVE OF CHEESE> that actually slowly started to work ..I needed a time to offer him his cheese and as I had transitioned to only fruit for snack time in an effort to curb "cracker wars" and get him eating more whole foods as opposed to high starch processed foods ..the thought of offering a cheese course after his dinner seemed to actually fit in quite nicely!
One more important aspect of the four course meal concept that sealed the deal for our family ..was the French approach of always offering something sweet at the end so that the last taste memory of your meal is a sweet and lovely one! That to me is just so poetically beautiful ..and after so much of the struggling and negativity that my little boy projected with eating ..in time I became to realize this was the little twist that our family needed.
<Some Tips -and- the unexpected advantages to following a Four Course Meal>
-we started with a three course (main-cheese-dessert)and are working into the four course as we have all become more comfortable with it!
-since cake, cupcake and cookies have in the past become a battle with our little boy (him screaming for them Ha!) his dessert sweet ending of his meal is Greek Yoghurt with honey drizzled over the top -or- unsweetened applesauce ..which he Loves! ..we save the cakes, cookies, chocolates and other magnificent treats for special occasions
-saving pastries, cakes, chocolates and treats for special occasions has actually made special occasions ..more special! Easter,Christmas,Halloween,Birthdays,Thanksgiving,Valentines Day,Summertime Ice Cream shop visits,dinner at the Grandparents,County Fairs,dinners with friends, picnics, ..etc ..their are thankfully so many opportunities to celebrate life together and enjoy special treats!
-keeping the meal moving into the different courses has quite literally helped keep my little boy (mostly) at the table! he is in anticipation of the next course and even sweetly calls it out .."Fromage!"
-by offering a unique small vegetable course first it takes the pressure off of the *new* for my little boy ...he knows he doesn't have to taste it because it is not the main event, more courses are on their way ...and when he is relaxed and open he can freely taste or not ...
-the four course actually helps our family stick with the rule of you eat what we eat! ..if the main course meal ends up being a difficult one in the past I would have stressed about him going to bed hungry I now know that he will still be getting bits throughout the meal whether he eats more cheese one night or more of the main meal ..or just his yoghurt ..and *this* keeps him from waking up hungry in the middle of the night!
-we have found the four course concept helps extend the meal longer ..and most surprisingly have found that by not rushing our little boy he has actually taken those all important tastes of new foods when we have been at the table together for a *longer 45+ minute stretch! we found that short quick 20minute meals also shorted the opportunity for him to touch-smell-observe a new food and for him to take a curious taste!
-one of our favourite new changes since we have started offering four courses is that our boy has quite amazingly started to really take his time with his meal ..it's amazing how much he now savours eating each bite! My husband and I laugh to ourselves as we find we have to actually slow down our eating to not rush him! it is so cute!
-although we do often follow this progression of courses for family lunch & dinner meals at home on many of our weekdays, we don't always offer the four courses if we are eating out or having a busy weekend popping in and out. We aren't regiment in about it ..it is not a strictly daily followed regime rather it has become for us more of a "lifestyle" ..a fun way to enjoy our meal more so than a strict guideline to follow.
Ahhh the Family Meal ..one of the beautiful gifts of Parenthood!