French people and I we have a lot in common. We share the love for beautiful things, breathtaking architecture, philosophical thought, fascinating history, elegant style, dazzling couture and above anything else heavenly food.
French food – a subject that has me sizzling and licking spoons just at the sheer thought of it. Obviously this little text won’t do it justice, since it’s impossible to summarize in seven hundred words what l’Art de la cuisine française is all about.
One thing that’s quite a paradox when it comes to eating in France is that French women remain slim despite being exposed to unrestricted delicacies. They can pass in front of Ladurée or Maison du Chocolat without being tempted to buy the whole stock of delicious pastries or lick windows (or maybe they do, since window-shopping is called lécher les vitrines – lick windows – in French).
Little did I know about temptation before I moved to France. In fact, nobody is prepared for the number of enticing baits coming right at you from all sides and angles. One thing is sure as eggs (or French omelette for that matter), residing in Paris is guaranteed to make your head spin without the addition of hallucinogen mushrooms. Just think of overflowing with sexual appeal (and nudity) movie and ad posters, fashion and body conscious mademoiselles ready to turn any man into a dutiful servant, culinary perfection to the degree of food porn at its absolute finest every ten meters or at every corner. He that would eat the kernel must crack the nut – takes on a different meaning when navigating the world of Parisian seduction.
As a matter of fact, food and sex go hand in hand in France, which is probably why most people here remain below the standard international BMI. In my opinion, this occurrence stays very much behind the secret as to why French women count as the slimmest around. Obviously something French people and I have in common (I meant staying slim of course, in case you were thinking dirty).
The relationship to food all French nationals have is a complex one. Cravings, desire and appetite might be terms applied equally to making out as to making a pie. One is left permanently wondering while living in France: is the low rate of chronic heart disease due to eating healthy (obviously not, just think of foie gras) or sleeping around?
Being the largest consumers of cheese doesn’t seem to help either. With 385 calories per serving, after five portions you’re closer to having a heart attack than having a climax.
So what’s the secret to staying slim in France, you might then ask?
I’m by no means an expert, but having been living here long enough I can tell you that there is a certain way of getting involved with food (besides the national habit of fondling baguettes on a daily basis) that the French master.
For starters, they take an enormous amount of time to savor every single bite of out their five-course supper. They will nibble, chew and inhale the food’s every aspect. They will discuss the serving with such a serious-mindedness that would make you think they’re referring to Beethoven’s last symphony and not a salad. And to give you an example in terms of time, (to the dismay of their employers) they will take two hours just to enjoy their lunch.
They’re obsessed with quality and freshness of their products. For them food isn’t just something you put in your mouth but has a higher calling. A simple coarse-grained sausage called Andouillette (made of porc intestines) will have five different grades from the Association Amicale des Amateurs d’Andouillette Authentique.
Their portions aren’t overflowing with mayonnaise or ketchup (maybe mustard on occasion) neither, while remaining way reduced in size. In fact, the more you pay and the higher in ranking the restaurant, the smaller the portions get (and thus the size of your wallet). The extravagance of a five-star meal in one of the top Parisian restaurants will quickly amount to 500 bucks for three pieces of chickpeas (leaving you both, broke and hungry for the price of a monthly supply of groceries).
After a well-seasoned dinner every Parisian will enjoy one thing though to keep him/her slim: instead of mints and toothpicks a little bit of desert in form of bedroom intimacy.