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Why I kind of wish I were a french mom in the late sixties

Christine Ripault

Children’s cookbook author Christine Ripault, back in the day, just casually stirring up a few things for the kids.

It’s quite obvious, isn’t it? Because I would get to dress like above pictured french author Christine Ripault, and feed my kids things like malted milk and carrot juice for breakfast and Wheatena soup with swiss cheese for dinner. Or supper, as it’s referred to in her book.

I can’t remember now exactly why I bought a copy of Ripault’s out-of-print-yet-still-available classic book Children’s Gastronomique, but I did, and I have loved it continually ever since. As the book hails from the pre-everything-is-processed days of the 1960′s, the food is wholesome, but not at all precious. Boiling and chopping up some lettuce leaves and adding this to cream of wheat is something I would never have thought up on my own, nor would I have found it in any of my Alice Waters-esque slow food style cookbooks, which I love, by the way. But boy did my daughter love this dish back in the day when she was just starting to eat solid food.

And there are some simple but also delicious recipes from major Parisian kitchens… The chef at Maxim’s, for example, recommends this Brill Fillet Au Court-Bouillon in which you prepare a court-bouillon (basically a vegetable broth with vinegar and some herbs), then use it to poach a fish fillet in a covered pan till it’s done, toss a bit of salt and pepper on and finally serve it up with butter and lemon juice.


Sure, we’ve learned a thing or two about nutrition since then, and for one thing might now trade in some of the white bread for whole grain, but the essence is still there. Plus it’s just so great to absorb how nonchalant the french are when it comes to just about anything. Very refreshing, especially if you are, like I was, an over researched, slightly anxious, secretly insecure new mother.

But at the end of the day, as long as I just show up to cook dinner in outfits like my girl Christine’s, I’ll win any kind of parenting contest hands down!

Children's Gastronomique, by Christine Ripault

Here’s my copy of the renowned book, a bit beat up but all the better for the wear, if you ask me. Published way back in 1968. Still available on Alibris and eBay.

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