I was reading a review in the NYT yesterday about a young woman who went to France to study for a year, lived with two French families, "Madame Chic" and "Madame Boheme," learned how not to live in holey jogging pants and flipflops, and has compiled her blog posts into a book.
This put me in mind of my experience as a new mother in Marseilles: first baby, foreign country, regular visits to a pediatrician, who had an office in his home with his wife as receptionist. Everyone very attentive, the weighing and prodding of the baby...but best of all he would sit at his desk after the exam and write out, by hand, four weeks' worth of menus (once we moved onto solid food): which vegetables to buy, cook and purée, in what quantities, adding a "noisette" 0f butter, the sprinkle of grated gruyere, a tiny portion of fish or meat. My daughter, who benefited from this diet, was a good eater from the start.
My other two kids became good eaters too, eventually (though my son won't touch fish), but they were born in San Francisco, and I was busier, and after I breast fed them we advanced to peanut butter sandwiches and rice crispies, which, when we returned to France, was all they would eat.
My son was two. France has municipally-operated drop-in creches. They are free. I went to visit ours and make a reservation for my son, before he started nursery school, which is state-run, free, and begins at age 3 or even 2 1/2. The supervisor wrote his name down and instructed me to put his lunch in containers that could be heated up by the staff. All French children eat a hot lunch. Nobody brown bags to school, creche or "Halte-Garderie." But how, I wondered, was I going to pack a peanut butter sandwich in a Tupperware, and what would happen if they warmed it up?