Water with Meals: A Page From My European Husband’s Book

updated Sep 30, 2020
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

When I was a child, our parents made us drink orange juice with breakfast and a cup of milk with our evening meal. I hated milk then and, as an adult, I really don’t love it, unless it’s accompanied by a stack of Oreo cookies. Most of my friends drank milk with supper, while our parents drank water or, occasionally, iced tea. My husband, who grew up in the United States, the child of two Europeans, was accustomed to water on the table, and our family has adopted this habit.

In his family, the adults sometimes had wine with meals, while my parents enjoyed the occasional Bud Light or gin and tonic, but on the patio with friends, not at the table. Beverage choice is one of the many, many things that differentiate his family from mine, but that keeps things interesting, n’est-ce pas?

In our family now, water is the norm and all other beverages are a choice. Milk rarely appears in our fridge, unless I’ve bought it for baking. Even then, it may be almond milk, although we are hardly dairy free. (My European husband couldn’t live without cheese!) Juice is an occasional treat, because fruit in its solid form is healthier. Iced tea and sodas are for special occasions and restaurants, and we discourage them even then. Though we’re concerned about our kids’ health, the price of three sodas in a restaurant is enough to make us say no. Any beverage devoid of any nutritional value should be reserved for fun.

My husband and I have coffee in the morning and hot tea at night, and other adult beverages when we want them, but the kids mostly drink water at home. My parents’ requirements from the eighties seem out of date. I can’t imagine making our kids drink milk in addition to eating a meal. My parents, by the way, were pretty health-minded compared to some. A friend who wishes to remain anonymous, probably so her own kids don’t find out, was required to drink one cup of milk before having cola with supper, in Louisiana in the seventies. And she and her sister drank “coffee milk” with their frosted flakes for breakfast. I wish I had known her then, because I would have loved being a guest in their home!

What beverages do you drink at home? And what do you serve your kids?

(Image: Anne Postic )