The well-known journalist loves the French approach to food and living.

Lauren Booth, journalist and broadcaster, came over for lunch yesterday. She wanted to show her daughters the chickens, and to get Perry and my feelings on our life in France, for her twice-monthly column in the Mail on Sunday.

Lauren is a dynamic and plucky writer, who recently underwent interrogation by the Israeli authorities, after she visited Palestine. Lauren made the visit, because she wanted to highlight the daily injustices which she had witnessed being inflicted on civilians, in Gaza and the West Bank. But she is also a young mum who has chosen to downshift to the French countryside, with her husband and two incredibly cute daughters.

Lauren and her husband, Craig, are among the mushrooming number of successful individuals, who have rejected consumerism and a city lifestyle, in favour of getting back to a more wholesome world, where life revolves around family, seasons, the weather, cooking and eating. Lauren embraces the French food ethics of family mealtimes, cooking with her kids, and making food from scratch, rather than choosing processed foods. Her children are growing up seeing and tasting life from a different angle than most of us, and, unused to the hidden fat, salt and sugar content in convenience food, I was surprised at lunch when the girls chose water over squash, and genuinely seemed to prefer fresh veg or fruit to sweets!

My hopes of serving one of our chickens to our lunch guests did not go to plan (another story), and, in addition, our car had died and I could not get to a shop! Our cupboards were embarrassingly bare, but everyone seemed perfectly happy with omelette and home-made chips. After some hot milk and honey, the girls braved the cruel north wind, to collect the eggs which were to go into the omelette, proudly displaying their finds to their mum.

After we had all sat down and eaten together, Lauren’s oldest, Alexandra, without prompting, thanked me very much for the …“really, really delicious omelette! I love omelette!” What a warm glow that gave me! Apparently, this mini-gourmet requests camembert for her cheese course, when the family dine out! Which is not surprising, considering that her ‘maternelle’ (nursery school) serves delicious four-course meals every day to the children. Alex’s time in France is teaching her about quality foods and ingredients, while her mum shows her where they come from, and how to put them together.

And, yes, of course Lauren takes her kids to restaurants! In France, they are not only welcome, but it is expected that the whole family would want to dine together. How else would children learn about ‘bonne cuisine’?

© Gem Driver 2005

Lauren’s column about her life in France is in the Mail on Sunday twice a month. She also writes for a multitude of other publications, as well as finding the time for her TV appearances and growing her own vegetables! To see her admirable, and intoxicating work on Palestine, visit the Daily Mail’s web site.

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