Posted: Thu May 31, 2018 12:33 am Post subject: Lunch in Paris (but no snacks) by Elizabeth Bard
I vaguely remembered Elizabeth Bard writing about the French way of eating in "Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, With Recipes", a story about her marriage to a French man and adjusting to life in France. So I went to look it up, and there's a lot like No S in there! Here, she is observing her trim, elegant French mother-in-law Nicole while visiting in a small seaside town:
I noted the contents of her bag: book, scarf, tube of sunscreen, bottle of water. I made another mental note. French women drink an extraordinary amount of H2O. ...
What was conspicuously absent from her bag were snacks. If an American family goes to the beach for the afternoon, chances are there's going to be a box of Fig Newtons in mom's tote, or at least money for a drippy ice cream cone. Nicole never eats between meals. She drinks wine at lunch; she usually has dessert or a square of dark chocolate with her coffee. Sometimes, when she sees patients till ten o'clock, she'll come down and grab a plain yogurt with a spoonful of jam. But she doesn't graze in the kitchen, ripping off a hunk of baguette before dinner. She doesn't pick while she cooks, popping one green bean into her mouth for every one she puts in the pot.
The non-snacking thing must take practice, because by the time we got back from the beach I was starving. . . . There was no question of my going into the kitchen to grab a glass of juice or a piece of fruit; it was clear that the area was off limits except for strictly observed mealtimes, like banker's hours.
And at dinner:
In the States, I could easily eat triple the amount that was now on my plate without considering whether I was actually hungry. I looked at Nicole, spooning ratatouille, as bright as a summer garden, onto her plate. I made another mental note. If my calculations were correct, this was the main reason why, with no particular effort, I had not gained a single ounce since I moved to Paris. A French portion is half of an American portion, and a French meal takes twice as long to eat. You do the math. . . .
I began to feel the slow fullness that comes from a light meal, lingered over for several hours. It was dfferent from the stuffed turkey feeling I usually had at home.
I too am obsessed with french cooking/recipe and culture. Big fan of French Women Don't Get Fat principles as well. Although I need more than a super light breakfast of coffee and toast, eggs for me please! _________________ Goldilocks
"The Goldilocks principle states that something must fall within certain margins, as opposed to reaching extremes."
Glad you both liked it, MaggieMaie and Goldilocks! I just took another Elizabeth Bard book out of the library, "50 French Secrets to Joyful Eating and Entertaining." Because that's what I want -- to truly enjoy my food the way the French and Italians do, not constantly weigh and track and worry and feel guilt, not stuff myself with junk.
We'll recognize some of her secrets:
Secret #37: The kitchen is closed . . . By and large, the French do not snack. Kids have their four o'clock goûters, but they are not rummaging through the cabinets at all hours of the day and night. Adults don't eat between meals (unless you count tea, espresso, and/or cigarettes) or much bags of pretzels or popcorn on the sofa after dinner. This is probably the hardest part of French eating for Americans to understand, but if you follow this rule, there are big payoffs -- and not just for your waistline.
Secret #38: Enjoy being hungry. Here's a little secret. If you manage to curb your snacking, there's a reward: your food tastes better. I found that in order to cut down on my snacking, I had to radically redefine my relationship with hunger. Maybe it's Americans' collective immigrant past, but we can't stand the idea of being hungry, not for a second. It's the reflex that makes us keep protein bars in our purses, Frappuccinos in our cars, and Cheerios in the stroller. One thing I notice whenever I visit the States: I am always eating and never, ever hungry. Meals have no set time or place. By the end of a three-week visit my palate often feels like a slab of lead -- all I can taste is sugar, salt, and fat. The French know that between-meal hunger isn't deprivation . . . Fifty percent of pleasure is anticipation.
It's interesting to me that after all her years of living in France, when she comes back to the U.S., she seems to fall right back into American eating habits. I'm cautiously optimistic that following the simple No S rules will help give me structure to improve my habits.
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