I came across this book, Children’s Gastronomique: A Guide to Gourmet Cooking for Infants and Young People, at a used bookstore this fall. Definitive, comprehensive, and oh-so French, it was a best seller in France when it was published in 1968. Luckily, it was translated into English and still feels incredibly relevant. So much so, in fact, that every one of my friends I show this to has the same reaction–“Why can’t there be a book like this published now?” Highlights: Chapter 20 All You Need to Know About Raw Vegetables and Fruit Hors d’Oeuvres, explains everything from how to wash and prep vegetables to the vitamin C content in watercress. There’s practical advice like what to serve at birthday parties, there’s a chapter on nutrition called The Doctors Speak, and my personal favorite chapter, The Chefs Speak, for which I would buy this book alone: “A little child is not just a digestive tube,” says M. Raymond Thuilier of Baumaniere’s in Les Baux-de-Provence. “He is born with all of his taste buds, and very soon, after a few weeks I believe, he is capable of differentiating odors, colors, and flavors. . . Nothing makes me sadder than to see a child, even a very young one, who is fed hastily, without thoughtful consideration, without imagination, without taste. In general, parents forget that their child eats first with his eyes. . . in other words, even for a baby, set the table.” Amen. Also, there are recipes from some of the most legendary restaurants–a fish fillet meuniere from Maxim’s, for example, recommended for children 18 months and older.
Check out used book websites like Alibris, where I found copies for around $10.