Goûter

gouter.jpgAfter recently spending a week in the UK my kids were very confused. In France one of the highlights of a child’s day is the “goûter”, a sweet snack at 4 pm. Usually it is a Nutella or jam sandwich with a glass of milk, or a sweet bread called a ‘pain au lait’ with a yogurt or a fuit compote (the French have never taken to the idea of rice cakes). It ties kids over until dinner time which is often given to them after their bath around 6.30 or 7.00pm. The day normally wraps up at 8pm.

In the UK dinner normally seems to be at 5pm and kids are in bed by 7pm sharp. So of course my daughter was very confused by not getting her customary goûter. I guess kids really are creatures of habit….

I’m interested to know what happens in other countries. Do you have the tradition of an afternoon goûter, or is the goûter just a French thing?

- Emilie

18 COMMENTS - Add your own

1. Courtney | March 13, 2009 | Reply

mmmm…. I need a Gouter right about now (the one with nutella)!!

2. Marga | March 13, 2009 | Reply

Hi Emily! In Spain we have it and it is called “merienda”. It is very similar to your gouter: bread and ham, a muffin, a piece of fruit, and milk or juice. When I was a little girl, my mom never gave us “nocilla”, the Spanish version of nutella, but a mixture of butter with colacao (chocolate powder) in the bread. I also remember just a piece of bread and two chocolate squares; or a bread cone with olive oil and sugar…
After the merienda, kids have a bath around 7, dinner at 8 and they are in bed at 9pm.
Now I live in The Netherlands but I keep my Spanish habits. I don’t think that they have “merienda” here (Esther will know better than me)…
What a great blog you girls have!
XOX
Marga

3. Jai | March 13, 2009 | Reply

When I was growing up “Snack Time” was milk and chocolate chip cookies. Now my son get’s milk and a granola bar or nuts or fruit at 5pm. Dinner is at 7 followed by bath then to bed at 8pm.

I don’t think it’s much of an American cultural thing though. Many parents I know here in Los Angeles don’t have a set bed time (or even meal time for that matter) for their kids.

J

4. Criso | March 13, 2009 | Reply

another Spaniard here! yes, we have merienda or berenar as we say in Catalan, even adults, yummy! it provides you with that extra energy needed until dinner time which is a bit later over here than in other European countries.

5. destri | March 13, 2009 | Reply

I live in the states and I do nutella too! i usually spread it on a nilla wafer and top with a slice of bannana or a slice of strawberry. I tried almond butter once, my son was not a fan. We do have a schedule for bed time at 8pm but really no routine for the snack so I might have to do as the french do…

6. Susan | March 13, 2009 | Reply

I am American but live in the Canada. My daughter has a snack after school (fig bars, pretzels, an apple and cheese, sometimes treats…) at 4 PM and then eats about 6 PM if things are on track. Sometimes we wait until 7 or 7.30 PM when my husband is home from work to have a ‘family dinner’ but by 8 PM she is ready for bed so there is not much time!

7. Michela | March 13, 2009 | Reply

In Italy we have the “merenda”, children normally eat it after school or after their nap if they do not go to school.
My children have merenda around 4, bath at 6:30, dinner at 7 and are in bed by 8.
But that’s not very italian, a lot of italian children have dinner with their parents at 8 or 8:30 and go to be at 9:30 or later even at a very early age!

8. Paula | March 13, 2009 | Reply

This explains something in one of my daughter’s favourite books. It is a French book about a day in the life of a little kid (“La journee des touts petits”, I think it is called) and in it bath time seems to come before dinner time. Now I understand! We usually wait until after dinner for a bath (because dinner can be messy), but as she gets older we may try to reverse the order.

9. Esther | March 14, 2009 | Reply

When I was a little girl my mum would make us tea when I came out of school – with cookies, of course.
We don’t have a typical afternoon snack in the Netherlands, I think most Dutch people eat their dinner fairly early, around 6 PM. Kids are in bed at seven.
In our family we have dinner around 7PM, so the kids are in bed around 8. And we do the bath after the dinner!
I do give my children a snack in the afternoon, usually a plate with fruit, some nuts, some pretzels etc. I like the idea of Nutella, I’m just afraid that if I get it I won’t be able to control myself!!!

10. Christine | March 14, 2009 | Reply

I think it’s pretty common in the USA for kids to have an afternoon snack – for us it was always when we got home from school (3:30- 4). No Nutella though, I’ll have to tell my mom we were robbed!! :) My youngest wakes by 5:30, so she’s in bed usually at 6:30. The oldest usually is in bed by 7:30, so she has a snack around 3:30-4 (often yogurt) and dinner with us at 6:30ish. Bath before dinner, only because I’d never fit it in otherwise.

11. Simone | March 14, 2009 | Reply

I am french and german and I loved to have gouter when we were in France. Too bad for me that my mon didn’t transfer it to Germany. Probabely because we went to bed earlier than the french children. Now, with my son we usually have gouter together. Dinner is at 6:30pm for him and he goes to bed around 7:30-8:00 pm which is very usual for gemany. Bath is only once or twice a week and always after dinner.

12. Lea in Seattle | March 15, 2009 | Reply

There’s no single way of doing things here in the states — as far as I can tell. Some kids eat dinner at 5, and some do so hours later. I’m English, so I like an early dinner. But we still do a snack an hour or so before.

Btw, I’d eat Nutella on just about anything :)

13. Holly H | March 15, 2009 | Reply

Hi Emily,
In Sweden we have a term called “fika” which means a little afternoon snack. Whether it’s with the kids or amongst my girl friends, it’s always a lovely time to take a break and have something yummy.
My daughter loves to come home from school and have her little ‘fika’ with me.

14. michelle vandepol | March 15, 2009 | Reply

my boys (11,8, and 4) and i have a 4pm snack everyday. my husband doesn’t get home from work until 7 so dinner is at 7:15 and they have to last until then. immediately following dinner we hang out a bit as a family, pjs on and then have bed time snacks (as if they’re hungry ;) but it’s our routine) at 8 pm
i love the idea of an accustomed treat at a set time — gezellig :)

15. Saskia | March 16, 2009 | Reply

It’s fun reading about all these afternoon habits in the different countries. I am Dutch, but I lived in Barcelona with my husband and 3 children for 2,5 years. There we also had the ‘merienda’ or ‘berenar’. At school the kids would get the pieces of chocolate with bread and a glass of milk. Now back in Holland it’s just some fruit and a cookie at 3 pm when they get out of school. We eat at six and afterwards baths and to bed at 8 pm. It seems there are less hours in a Dutch day, than there are in a Spanish day.
The USA comments made me think of the time when I was younger. I lived in Florida with my parents and back then there was no Nutella, instead my mom put cake icing on our sandwiches. Can you imagine how envious my friends were!

16. Lieve | March 17, 2009 | Reply

We have an afternoon snack called ‘vier-uurtje’ in Belgium. It’s usually fruit and/or a cookie though, not a sandwich.

17. Jessica Reeves-Rush | March 24, 2009 | Reply

I’m in Washington State. My neighbors & I grew up with an “after school snack”. Around 3:30 or 4, usually this was cheese, or chips, peanut butter and jelly sandwich, apples. Just something to keep us until dinner. I do the same with my kids who come to my work after school. I give them whatever I have on hand, usually crackers and cheese and juice. I’m off at 5 and hustle home to cook dinner by 6. They go to bed at 8:00.

18. ilana | March 25, 2009 | Reply

I’m in São Pauo, Brazil and here we do have the “lanche da tarde”, wich would translate to afternon snack. here’s it’s either a sandwich, or fruit and yogurt, or a piece of cake, or crackers and cheese… in more traditional houses and in the countryside homes you may find all of these served at the same time. usually around 4p.m.
i think dinner and bed time here are a little later than in european countries…

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