When we imagine French women, we think long, lean, chic…à la Françoise Hardy.
And when we imagine French food, we think bread, cheese, butter…à la croque-monsieur.
Hold up. Is it just me, or do those two trains of thought seem incompatible? Like do they expect us to believe that SHE ate THAT? Clearly something doesn’t add up here.
As a student in Paris, I brooded on this paradox in my politically incorrect–and maybe offensive–post Hungry Chic (which I haven’t deleted because it serves as insight to the musings of the 19-year-old mind), but I never got to the bottom of it. After just a few weeks abroad, I learned that “pain au chocolate” is actually French for “cellulite,” and that although sweet dreams are made of cheese, the brie belly you have the next morning is a nightmare. I concluded that “portion control” was a myth and resolved that French croissants must be laced with phentermine and/or baby laxatives.
Sure, they walk everywhere, but they also drink wine with every three-course meal, and you can bet your bottom
dollar euro that every meal has three courses…followed by more wine! You know what they say: 8 glasses a day keeps the doctor away. But the difference is that in America, we’re talking about water. In France, they mean wine.
Water just isn’t a priority in France. Seriously, it is the most dehydrated country I have ever encountered. And not only is water overlooked in French culture, it is crazy expensive too (when you compare it to €2 bottles of wine, anyway)…but that’s another man’s
war blog post.
I can poke fun at the French lifestyle all I want, but the truth is I’m jealous. I want to drink wine all day and then nap it off (napping is very important here) before my three course dinner. The French know that food does more than feed the body; it feeds the soul. And after spending another year in Europe, I’ve learned something important about myself: I love food. I mean I always loved food, bien sûr, but now I care about it. I think wine and cheese should play vital roles in our daily lives, and I’ve grown skeptical of Kate Moss’s words of wisdom, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” Sounds like someone has never heard of waffles.
Speaking of things that taste better than skinny feels, here are–what I consider–some of France’s greatest hits:
Fromage (cheese): pressed cheeses (Comté, Emmental), soft cheeses (Brie, Camembert, Munster), crumblier cheeses (Roquefort, chèvre)
Entrées (starters): escargot (snails), foie gras (paté made from goose or duck liver)
Boulangerie/Pâtisserie (from the bakery): baguette, croissant, croissant aux amandes (almond croissant), pain au chocolate, paille framboise (a delicious puff-pastry-rasberry-jam-sandwich of sorts), beignet, macaron
Classics: crêpes, galettes (savory crêpes), madeleines (shell-shaped cakes), boeuf bourguignon, steak frites (steak and fries), tarte tartin (upside down apple tart), croque-monsieur and croque-madame
And when it comes to French wine, you can’t go wrong. The important thing to remember is that if it doesn’t hurt your wrist, your glass isn’t big enough.
Great post, as always. L – O – V – E your writing!!!