Welcome back! Yesterday was a holiday in the Toms River school system…Columbus Day! No school and no school lunch. But we are still moving along and we are on Day 17, having passed the midpoint of our 30 day school lunch comparison between two public school systems in two different countries: Toms River, NJ and Pau, France. Here is what is being served today on both menus:
Toms River, NJ
Choice of 1 main dish, 2 sides and served with a half pint of milk
Chicken Patty Sandwich or Italian Hoagie
Green Beans and Fresh Fruit Salad
Served with slices of baguette and water
Broccoli with Bechamel Sauce
Fruited Fromage Blanc (1)
(1) Fromage Blanc is a creamy soft cheese. Literally translated to: “white cheese” it resembles cream cheese, although it is less thick. Fromage Blanc (sometimes it is called fromage frais) is usually served with something to sweeten it up, such as honey, sugar, fruit, or jam.
Quite a nice menu for Toms River…Don’t you think? Balanced meal, especially if the child chooses the Italian Hoagie over the Chicken Patty. A chicken patty, from what I remember (from way too long ago!) eating them in the school cafeteria are that they are deep-fried and have a thick coating of a bread-like substance. Thus, a fresher, lighter and healthier option is the hoagie.
Now looking at Pau, my personal opinion is that the menu today is a bit “off” or unbalanced. The first course is a slice of pizza, followed by fried and breaded fish. Then broccoli with a bechamel sauce, which is a creamy, white sauce. Followed by another creamy dessert: fromage blanc. Too much cream, too much fat and too heavy. This is my opinion. Better substitutes could be a fresher first course with a salad, fruit or vegetable or even the dessert could be a fruit instead of another creamy food. But, best to keep the broccoli, whatever way it is served. In fact, to meet “5 a day” fruits and vegetables it is better to have the kids eat broccoli (or any vegetable) even if it is served with higher fat sauce than not eating vegetables at all. But, what about serving the broccoli as a first course? You want your kids to eat vegetables? Sit them down at the table, very hungry, put down those veggies as a first course. Make the vegetables appetizing, add a sauce, vinaigrette, dipping condiment. Then turn your head so they don’t judge your reaction…most kids will wolf down those vegetables! See my previous posting on ways to perfect this simple trick. So, bravo for Toms River and could have been a better day for Pau. Do you agree with this conclusion? Let me know with your comments. Buon Appetito!