Friday, April 5, 2013

Friday Night Apéritif --- kid style

Happy Friday! In our house this often means: Friday Night Apéritif --- kid style, tonight. Would you welcome a little "Oh, la, la" in your house tonight, too? This Friday tradition has broadened the children's taste buds unimaginably and is just plain festive fun.
Today, I wanted to just plant an idea (and share proportions -- two-third veggies to one-third snack rule); sharing this idea through a fresh, quick and simple sampler (above). However, some Fridays, can be much more elaborate and; some, have turned into a casual Friday night meal which have included vast ranges from: indonesian chicken kabobs, Lebanese meze dishes, to mini pizzas, etc. In fact, some Fridays ... are, actually, Saturdays -- but,  the principle is always the same.  If you've ever wondered how to get your children to try new foods, eat more vegetables or to encourage family table side conversation, this concept ignites all of this.  (And, if you've been to willowday before, of course, I say: let there be something hand written: do it yourself or encourage your kids, with a simple hand written menu, place cards  or folded pocket napkins to add that something extra.)

In this Friday Night series, I'll share some of our favorite go-to recipes, in posts to come. I'm even thrilled that a few friends have shared recipes and interviews with me about what they could add from their region of the world. I can't wait to share these with you, too.

Our Friday ritual started like this:
"Apéritif + Amuse-bouche," when visiting my in-laws is a highlight. We put both ideas together into a sweeping, one word, Apéritif. When it's served in their house, "apéritif" conjures up a James Bond, Grace Kelly feeling and is more than just cocktails and nibbles. My Riviera born, now retired Ambassadress, mother-in-law, sets a stage and through food + setting, rather than words, shares her life's journey with us. She delicately and deliberately lays out the multiple, teeny, Amuse-bouche" bowls of carefully perused food and we all know to wait for the sound of the cork to announce that "Apéritif" hour has arrived -- including the kids.

The kids, as toddlers,
learned to patiently pluck and looked at this spread with such anticipation that they hopped right over the fact that they were maybe eating their chips and crackers, with a side of endive, carrot sticks and dried apples.  I think think adventuresome appetites were opened with the shared festivity of the ambiance, small portion sizes, and a vast array of foods --- I think these elements worked together as an invitation to taste: taste a chip... taste a cracker... taste a cracker with pâté ... and on to: local chevré, caviar, tapenade, olives from their garden, magret de canard, fresh almonds, raw mini artichokes to bull sausage from the Camargue, etc. without pressure --- the list goes on and on.  An idea was born.

When we returned home to Sweden, under the guise of thinking of Papy and Mami in France, I announced that "tonight I'd serve a special Friday night Apéritif" and poured our toddlers apple juice in stemmed glasses alongside a table set with my first home version --- a new tradition began. It was half: hats off to family culture and tradition and half: food exploration.  This is my formula:

1/3 = Chips, Crackers, Pretzels, etc
2/3 = Veggie or Real food

1/3: 1. Japanese Mix Crackers, 2. Chips 3. Pretzels
2/3: Carrots, Cucumbers, Red Peppers, Snap Peas, Raw Food Sesame Crackers and Hummus 
(Our other most regular is Guacamole) 

I learned first hand: was it really so bad if your child enthusiastically eats both 3 chips to 6 vegetables and while by your side? It's amazing, we never have a veggie left when I serve Apéritif style --- ever. The doting Mother in me would love to keep the kids scrupulously eating healthy every minute;  but, honestly, are we going to keep them from learning about Oreos or Doritos forever? (I kept Lordaggodis away for years... but after a while in school... there questions to answer!) Plus, isn't food means to be enjoyed together, don't you agree? Have you ever thought about this before? Do you have childhood family traditions you carry with you as an adult? Do you even have a food philosophy? I'd love to hear from you.  I hope that a Friday Night Apéritif injects you with a little oo, la, la, too! Happy Friday night!

NOTE: If you're not 100% certain what Apéritif* and Amuse-bouche** are, I'm sure you're not alone --- see below. If you're not familiar with me and why, in the world, I have anything to say about France or in French, my mother-in-law is French and my in-laws live under the Procencal sun in the south of France. *"Apéritif" is a French word derived from the Latin verb aperire, which means “to open.”
**"Amuse-bouche" is a French term that literally translated means "mouth amuser" and s a single, bite-sized hors d’œuvre typically crackers, cheese, pâté or olives

Something you might like:
Make Vegetable Mandalas (not pictured below)
#2: Friday Night: Aperatif Mexican Style: (not pictured, click here)
Bunny Toast (not pictured below)
Flat Bread -- Just make it rounds, instead of Jack-o-lanterns, year around
Let your kids make Butterfly Place Cards: Spring is around the corner, after all!
Simple Snack: Walnuts and Parmesano
Dipped Spoons Personalized Serving Utensils
Swedish Snacks
Nice Ice
Veggie Wheels (not pictured)

For the full " kitchen" list, click here:

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  1. What a Lovely presentation! How could children NOT be tempted by healthy (and "splurges") when put to them in such a pleasurable way!

    Looking forward to getting new ideas for our own Friday night "pluck" as the series progresses.

    Happy Friday!

    1. You make happy to share. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! Happy Weekend!

  2. A great idea! My kids are super picky, I should try this on basic foods I want them to try.

    1. Thank you for your comment! Good luck! I'll cross my fingers that there's something here that's helpful for you!

      Honestly, this is our miracle. Adding that my own mother has always given me the advise to use small serving sizes, as to not overwhelm the kids ---- since small bowls are already a part of a traditional Apéritif this combination of treat and health has worked so well. (Also, since with this, chips are involved: quite simply there aren't enough chips served to fully take away anyone's appetite -- just enough to add the feeling of festivity and the "forbidden"...and instead, opening up the appetite)

      Actually swopping out an ordinary meal and replacing it with these celebratory "Apéritif " has honestly helped us over periods of finickiness. Fill one of the bowls with chicken on a stick and you have a meal.

      Back to my own dear wise mother again: the idea of small portions has also been critical for our most finicky eater. Preferring to make all meals a happy pleasure, rather than a battle, I used to playfully ask our "finickiest" eater to see if he could take just one bite --- adding that the bite could just be a "caterpillar" sized bite and with big whoops, celebrate it when he did that and treating that as a huge happiness/pleasure and then, taking the food away so emphasize the success and that it wasn't a big deal to "me" that he eat the whole thing -- only that there was a pleasure in "sampling". I'd repeat this day after day until ... over time, could he take as many caterpillar sized bites as his age ... eventually eating it. My observation (now with bigger kids) is that food is a balance: it's 1/2 based on personal food preferences can also be based on need to control, fear of the unknown -- all honest... so through finding ways for them to success has been the best path for lasting success.

  3. Ooo, I love, love, love this! It tickles all of my fancies: the celebration of the every day, the trying of new foods, everything in wee sizes, getting kids interested in adventurous eating AND the merging and mashing of cultures to create something beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing this!


    1. Thank you "Sparkling!" Yes, that's the part of it that makes it so much fun for me, too! I'm endlessly fascinated about the tales that get us where we are and how we've gotten there -- nothing does this more than food.

      Plus, these are fantastic conversations ---- just by adding a dish that is always served when we visit their other grandparents, had on vacation, was their "Daddy's" idea of popcorn when he was living in Northern Africa opens minds, conversation and that, for me, is a part of what I call a successful meal! Thanks so much for your comments! Happy Weekend!

  4. You're so cool I can't take it. Seriously. Stop. Wait, don't stop. I love it.

    1. :-) oh you flatterer you! Thank you!!


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