Down & Out In A London Kitchen

Esther Walker started a food blog called Recipe Rifle in 2009 when desperate and unemployed. In 2010 she married restaurant critic Giles Coren and far, far too quickly had a baby daughter, called Kitty.

French Children Don’t Throw Food

Posted by Esther Walker
Esther Walker
Esther Walker has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The two things that frightened me most about having children were sleep deprivation and toddler tantrums.

Now Kitty is nearly a year old, and has been sleeping through the night for a while, toddler tantrums are about to be a very real thing – and I’m scared.

So I fell on the recently-published French Children Don’t Throw Food like a crazy person. In it the author, an American journalist called Pamela Druckerman who lives in Paris with three children, attempts to explain why it is that French children don’t throw food, or take off their clothes in restaurants, or interrupt, or generally make a nuisance of themselves.

I say she attempts to, because it’s not easy to explain an entire, ancient cultura

l attitude in a single book. But broadly it goes: leave your children alone. If they are playing happily, let them be. They are not bored, they are working things out for themselves. Don’t tell them off very much, but when you do, make it count.


I have been putting this all into practise like a religious devotee. Our local library has a sound-proofed children’s room and we went the other day. All the other mothers were doing some high-energy interaction with their babies and in my post-French Children evangelism it looked perfectly nuts. “Do you want to read a book? Do you want to play on this?” they bellowed, as if their children were deaf – or foreign.

I sat Kitty down within reach of some toys and books and retreated while she had a brilliant time bumbling about and investigating everything, unencumbered by her doltish mother. I intervened only when Kitty went to lick a buggy wheel. “No!” I said sternly. “We do not lick buggy wheels. They are dirty.” And do you know what? I really think she understood. She stopped licking the buggy wheel at least, and went back to batting some toys about.

Alas, everyone else in the library was looking at me as if I was an absolute monster. So I might be on the path to a very well-behaved child but will have no friends to boast to about it. C’est la vie.

0 votes
  • Print

Recent posts

Blow the detox

Why does everyone go on about how much they hate January? I love January. It's my favourite month. There are so few expectations of joy and happiness ...

Forgot your password?
Click to read our digital edition

Boarders Dormitory Master-Mistress
We are looking to appoint a Dormitory Mistress/Master for 5 nights per week, weekday evenings and nights only, term time. (35 weeks). [...]


Housekeeper to Headmaster
We have an opportunity for an experienced live-out housekeeper. You will provide a cleaning and hospitality service for the Headmaster and his guests and help to ensure the household runs efficiently. [...]


Full Time Housekeeper, Nanny
We are looking for a full time, live-out housekeeper/nanny. We are a relaxed young couple living in a large country house, and will have one newborn baby. [...]


Experienced Carer, Companion, Housekeeper needed
Our elderly mother needs a live in carer/companion on a part time basis. Must be warm hearted, calm & compassionate, with a good sense of humour. [...]


Cook, Housekeeper wanted
Good cooking skills required to cater for light meals for the Principal and a small staff, as well as occasional lunch/dinner parties. [...]




What the stars have in store for you this week.2017

Capricorn Aquarius Pisces Aries Taurus Gemini Cancer Leo Virgo Libra Scorpio Sagittarius

Sign up to receive our weekly newsletter