Joyeux jour de la Francophonie! Happy International Day of Francophonie...take time to don a kicky beret, order something esoteric with subtitles on Netflix, get crêpes for lunch, crème brûlée for desert, and crack open a copy of Pamela Druckerman's Bébé Day by Day over your café noir.
If you were a fan of Druckerman's Bringing Up Bébé, published last year to much acclaim (and some consternation), you'll find that this new compendium of French parenting tricks and tips is a perfect way to introduce naysayers to the common sense Gallic child-rearing techniques profiled in the first book.
If you've yet to dip into either of this American Mom's contributions to global parenting literature, you are in for a measured and smartly written treat. Raising kids takes a village; and Druckerman's village just happened to be Paris. Bringing Up Bébé chronicles Druckerman's experiences expecting, birthing and child rearing her three children with the help and advice of other French mom and dads who seemed to have this parenting thing licked and to all be in a general consensus as to how to do it.
Instead of putting it down to typical French self-satisfaction, Druckerman harnessed her previous career experience as a Wall Street Journal reporter and set out to investigate. What made French toddlers tick? What vintage of wine were these parents serving their newborns to make them sleep through the night? The answers, like "la pause", "le cadre", are fully investigated in Bringing Up BéBé and offered anew in a reference format in Bébé Day by Day that makes this second iteration both compact and easily accessible with one hand while holding a fussy and very un-French tantruming toddler in the other.
One of my favorite things about Bébé Day by Day is the collection of kid-friendly recipes straight from the menus of a Parisian creche (daycare). With my son currently attending a Francophone creche here in Morocco, I am often shamed into giving dinner an extra oomph when I read the school's weekly offerings...complete with cheese course. Druckerman's recipes have offered me a number of creative and easy alternatives in the past few weeks. Below is one of our household's most recent favorites.
So on this day of Francophilia, cook up some French nursery school fare, pair it with a full-bodied Bordeaux and voila! Your celebration has begun. Check out CultureBaby's new amazon store to order your copy of either book and bon appetit!
Potage Complet-Lentilles (Complete Meal Lentil Soup) from BeBe Day by Day
Re-printed courtesy of Pamela Druckerman and with the permission of Penguin Press
2 Shallots (chopped)
2 cups Lentils
2 medium potatoes, peeled, washed and chopped into medium size pieces
5 cups of cold water
1 clove of garlic
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 medium carrots, peeled
1/4 cup creme fraiche (or sour cream)
2 ounces boneless chicken breasts, finely diced
In a large saucepan, sauté the shallots in some olive oil, add the lentils and potatoes, and cover with the cold water. Add the garlic, black pepper, cumin and carrots.
Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, over medium heat, for 45 minutes or until the potatoes and lentils are soft. Add more water if needed. Season with salt. Stir the creme fraiche into the lentils (you can mix in less cream if you want, or just add a dollop to each bowl before serving). While the lentils are cooking, use a sauté pan to brown the chicken in a little olive oil. Pour the soup into bowls, then add some chicken and a pinch of parsley to each.
A CultureBaby note: We also tried this recipe with lardons (small chunks of bacon) when we ran out of chicken. Also delicious.