Sunday, 12 August 2018

In the French kitchen with kids by Mardi Michels

Opened, unwrapped, studied, a quick flick through and then to the ‘acknowledgements’. I, myself, am not a cook, although I am looking forward to proving myself wrong with a cookbook for ‘…francophiles of all ages’. I am, however, gluttonous for stories and even more so when these stories enable me to meet and learn about people. Thus, straight to the end of ‘in the French kitchen with kids’, where my inkling about this Australian-born, French-loving, Canadian-living lady was proved right. Mardi is also a passionate people person. Her book was created with others, for others and it is clearly important to Mardi that she encourage families, and kids, to cook, discover and learn together. ‘In the French kitchen with kids’ happens to be about French cooking, as France is another of Mardi’s passions, but I sense that it could just as easily have been about any cuisine as long as togetherness was at its heart.

Australian-born, just like Mardi, I took my family to live in France when my children were 6, 9 and 12. At school, a vegemite sandwich, piece of fruit and a treat for recess was no longer the way to go. Instead, the children stayed at school for a generous three-course meal on occasions or came home to enjoy their two-hour lunch break on others. There was a third option; eating at a friend’s house. Only, invitations in meant invitations out… Whilst all of my children’s friends were exceptionally polite and ate whatever we put in front of them, the stress of providing an acceptably French meal was real. If I had been armed with Mardi’s cookbook (which covers actual food eaten by real French children), I would have known what sauce to serve with the pork cutlets, how to prepare a good vinaigrette to mix with salad leaves, that fish fingers could be an acceptable option and how to check when my beans were ready.

I am going to leave the detailed food commentary to those more qualified than me, but make mention of the little tidbits, facts and ‘did-you-knows’ throughout, plus Mardi’s personal anecdotes (why vegetable soup is included being my favourite). These turn the book from a set of instructions into a story – and what kid doesn’t love a story?

Practical details:
Published by appetite by Random House
Length 184 pages
Recipes divided into sections: breakfast, lunch, after-school snacks, dinner, dessert, special occasions and basic pastry recipes along with tips for cooking with kids and lists of equipment.
Available world wide: Amazon for print and ebook copies

PS: As a somewhat impatient cook, when I witnessed a French friend in Australia prepare baguettes in front of me, with minimum fuss and a modicum of waiting (2 hours) for the dough to rise, I determined to see for myself if they required an authentic French touch or just any old (mine) would do. Click here to find out what happened.

choux puff tower - pièce montée

Thank-you, Mardi for generously sending me a copy of your book. It has been a pleasure to get to know you and to witness your enthusiasm for everything that you do. I wish you much success with this, your latest endeavour.

If you would like to find out more about Mardi, the best place to start is here at her eatlivetravelwrite website or in Mardi's own words:

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Thanks so much for your support (always!). Please follow me on my various social media channels (and tag me if you make something from the book!)

Like my page on Facebook (this is the best place to keep up to date with book events, signings etc…)
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Or to rent Mardi's house in south-west France click here

***Purchase your copy of 'But you are in France, Madame', which takes you with us on our French adventure, at Amazon, here ***


  1. It sounds like a great cookbook for a beginner.

    1. The premise is that the recipes be accessible for children. Some require more assistance than others (eg the pièce montée shown), but I love the fact that children are encouraged to cook early, as a fun family practice, learning about ingredients and in particular about French eating and cooking habits.