Dinner with Vanessa from BozAround!

Our friend Vanessa Boz from the wonderful and inspirational travel blog BozAround lives in London with her husband and their two children Marcelo (6) and Amalya (3). And she’s due to have her third baby in less than two weeks!! We’re super excited to share her dinner time post with you.

I love to eat good food, but I’ve never been what you’d call a good cook. I think I’ve been too spoiled by my French-Italian mother who is such an excellent one and would put the best meals on the table in no time. Only now that I have become a mother myself do I realise the importance of mastering a few quick recipes to make the family happy. By the way, last time I asked my husband if he could cook some pasta for the children, he asked me ‘how do I do that’ (does this answer your question on whether cooking is a shared responsibility in the Boz family?!!) When my son Marcelo was born 6 years ago, I started a cookbook of my personal favourite recipes, cutting from magazines whatever seems easy and appetising, ringing my mom to walk me through some of her staples (I’ve noticed that she always omits one or two little but key-to-deliciousness ingredients. She swears she does not do it deliberately but I think it’s a typical good cook trick!!).

One such recipe from my childhood is Tagliatelle with creme fraiche and smoked salmon, from its name a blend of French and Italian influences!

I’ve lived in the USA and then the UK for more than 15 years now, but I still can’t adapt to the very early dinnertime in the anglo-saxon culture (5:30pm?? that’s when we still have baguette with nutella for snack time!!). In France, we’d never have dinner until at least 7:30, more often 8pm even on a school day. That’s why if you go to Paris for vacation, you’ll always find a table available in restaurants before 8pm (if the kitchen is open), or a restaurant full of tourists.

So these days, we usually have dinner together with the children around 7:15pm, right when my husband comes home from work. We like to eat as much as possible together for dinner but of course, that’s in theory. In theory also, the children will already have had their bath, and be in their pyjamas, and the bedrooms are tidied up so that meal time can be as stress-free as possible. While our daughter Amalya (3) is a happy eater, always eager to show off her good-manners at the table, our son is very chatty and a slow-eater so dinnertime often takes longer than it should. Marcelo used to have severe allergies (dairies, egg, kiwi) – they’ve all mysteriously but happily disappeared when he turned 3 years old. As a result of this, we were over-cautious with food when he was little, and I am trying to make up now by introducing him to all sorts of ingredient combinations.
Also, last year, we took a sabbatical travelling around the world (read here for our adventures on BozAround) and it’s incredible the positive impact that our trip had on the children’s eating habits. They became curious to all sorts of food, adventurous even. Marcelo still talks about his kangaroo steak with some pesto sauce on Fraser Island, Australia…

Back to a typical Monday dinnertime with the Boz family…On the week end, we like to buy bagels and smoked salmon for breakfast (it reminds us of our New York days) and there’s always some left overs that I use for my Tagliatelle recipe on Monday night. Another week end ritual is to go to the Marylebone farmer’s market where I buy all sorts of organic produce for the week, including fresh Spelt pasta. The recipes does not call for much more than this:

- Fresh tagliatelle or any other sort of long pasta that the children will enjoy gulping
- Smoked salmon cut in small pieces
- Sea salt for the boiling water. As they say in Italy, water for the pasta should be as salty as the mediterranean sea.
- A thick and creamy creme fraiche (or some leftover cream cheese…)
- A bit of lemon squeeze if possible
- And maybe some parsley to decorate the plate and remind the children that there should be a rainbow in the tummy…
Ps: no parmesan as Italians consider it a crime to put cheese with a seafood pasta!!
The only trick for this dish is to add the smoked salmon all the way at the end, on top of the pasta when it’s cooled down a bit, so that it does not ‘cook’ with the heat of the pasta.
Et voila…Bon appétit les enfants…

When Marcelo and Amalya like their dinner, they always lick their plates (i know, that’s not part of the French etiquette!) and play the joke ‘maman i am starving i did not get any food tonight”…and we have a good laugh. And then I’m exhausted and can’t wait for my husband to put them to bed…That’s how we share responsibilities at home.

- Vanessa

9 COMMENTS - Add your own

1. Lulu | July 20, 2012 | Reply

Thanks for sharing Vanessa, this looks delicious – *and* I just happen to have those ingredients at home right now. I’m going to try it for my girls’ dinner – I’m sure Miss nearly-four and Miss just-turned-two will love it.

2. Esther in Amsterdam | July 20, 2012 | Reply

Your kids are so cute! And I love the ‘rainbow in your tummy’ credo — I’m definitely going to use that one on my kids!! :-) Thank you for sharing your dinner time with us — and god luck with the last week or so! Looking forward to meeting your new baby!!! So exciting!!! xxxx

3. Emmy | July 20, 2012 | Reply

We have just switched to a “french” style family dinner time after reading Karen Le Billon’s book “French Kids Eat Everything” while on holiday. I have been really surprised by what a huge difference it has made to my toddler’s eating habits and how we interact as a family at that time of day. My husband and I have also had to sacrifice our preference for eating later in the evening but it has been absolutely worth it. I’m excited to see the influence this will have on my son going forward. The recipe looks delicious!

4. Beth in London | July 20, 2012 | Reply

What a lovely post! Your children are adorable…and I can’t wait to try your recipe out on my own family!

5. vanessa | July 20, 2012 | Reply

Thanks so much Esther for inviting for the feature, it looks so nice! When my mother will see that I got interviewed for my cooking talent, she will be so proud!!!
Lulu, i hope you and your children like it the dish..!

6. Tabara | July 20, 2012 | Reply

Gorgeous children – Amalya is so adorable!
I love your recipe, I will most definitely give it a try.

Tabara x

7. Courtney in London | July 21, 2012 | Reply

I love this dinnertime story! What a happy, and honest ‘report’.
And Vanessa — I can’t believe you’re due to have your baby in less than two weeks! I am constantly thinking of you. It’s so close!
xxx

8. Emilie | July 21, 2012 | Reply

Vanessa, I love this dinner time story. We are now also used to the French eating times and the kids have dinner in pyjamas after bathtime. So exciting that your baby is going to be here soon!

9. Emily may Copp | January 23, 2014 | Reply

Thanks for sharing this post! I love the simplicity of this dinner
Yet its so nutritious, quick and delicious! I too happen to have all of the above(except the salmon-which I will pick up)at home so excited to make this this evening! As a busy mum of 3 young boys 3-8 I’m delighted for any dinner ideas coming my way :) now to get my husband to put the kids to bed on his own!! Thanks again!
Emily

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