July 14 is the annual National Day celebration in France. The date marks the one-year anniversary of the famous storming of the Bastille and the end of the French Revolution which changed France from a feudal nation governed by a monarchy to a republic. Admittedly, there were a few sketchy years when Napolean was in charge.
Many French make a distinction between July 14, 1789 and July 14, 1790. As with any political change, particularly one that resulted in bloodshed and loss of life, there were hard feelings on both sides.
In 1880, French Senate Chairman Henri Martin explained why he believed France should adopt July 14th as its National Day:
“Do not forget that behind this 14 July, where victory of the new era over the ancien régime was bought by fighting, do not forget that after the day of 14 July 1789, there was the day of 14 July 1790. … This [latter] day cannot be blamed for having shed a drop of blood, for having divided the country. It was the consecration of the unity of France. … If some of you might have scruples against the first 14 July, they certainly hold none against the second. Whatever difference which might part us, something hovers over them, it is the great images of national unity, which we all desire, for which we would all stand, willing to die if necessary.”
For most French people, these distinctions have ceased to matter. Instead, the day is about parades and parties. To help the French celebrate (after all, they did help us out a whole lot during our American Revolution), here are some ideas for a kid-friendly, French-inspired picnic.
Cheese platter – You don’t have to pick fancy, stinky cheeses in order to enjoy a cheese platter with your kids. Pick what you – and they – enjoy. Ideally, try to get a variety of different cheese textures for them to sample along with a lovely grape juice.
Salade Nicoise – She may not be French but Martha Stewart is “la dame” when it comes to an American version of the famous French salad. Here’s her recipe for salade nicoise. Definitely splurge on the bottle of white wine vinegar; it makes a lovely difference!
Crepes – I love crepes either with sugar or nutella. Here’s a basic crepe recipe from AllRecipes.com you can try.
Baguette sandwiches – Take the humble ham and cheese sandwich and put it into a delicious baguette and you’re halfway to France! This easy sandwich is super kid-friendly. For an authentic feel, add cornichons, tiny French pickles, to the sandwich with either mayonnaise or mustard.
For more articles from KidCulture about France and French food, check out these links:
Soup’s On! French Onion Soup
French Food Made Fun
French Cooking Class for Kids