Wednesday, August 4, 2010

In Praise of French Food

One of my favorite things about the French is the food. I have been indulging in flaky pastry stuffed with scallops, great pots of mussels with tiny slim French fries, duck breast in lemon and ginger. We have been buying various pates and cheeses to eat at the apartment with crusty bread. I've been walking to the bakery every morning to get my baguette, and maybe a raisin snail to go with it. And the pastries: strawberry tarts, cream puffs, eclairs, ah, sigh.

Some things are horribly expensive, some strangely cheap. We've bought duck pate for around a dollar, a huge thing of cooked shrimp for four dollars. And yet fish and meat are about the same price as gold. Still, any country where I can buy a perfectly aged camembert cheese for two Euros has to be pretty good.

Even though French food is rich, you don't see many fat people. That's because they walk a lot, they buy their ingredients fresh every day and they eat small portions. You may see them drinking red wine at midday, but only one glass. Everything in moderation. They take hours over a meal. Nobody will bring the check unless you ask for it, even if you sit there all evening. Food and good conversation are to be savored.

I rather suspect this is about to change as the diet is changing with the advent and concept of fast food. Pizza parlors are everywhere, so are hamburger joints. Cheap restaurants are serving up the same huge plates that have made us fat in America. I would hate to see a France in which duck breast of the future comes with "all the fixin's" and an unlimited salad bar.


  1. the hours over a meal was one of the things i both loved and hated when i was in paris. sometimes, i just want to eat and run. but getting a waiter's attention so that we could pay the bill? impossible! it was as though it was unthinkable to leave after less than 75 minutes.

    but i agree with you about the food.

  2. I saw a book once and I think the title is Why French Women Don't Get Fat. I think there is also one about Japanese women not getting fat by a different author.

    Do you speak French? I studied it in school and still dabble in it now and then because I have the French courses with tapes and C.D.'s. I'm part French.

    Never been to Europe. The closest I got was going to a croissant place in Toronto where the woman behind the counter had a French accent and a couple of customers were speaking French.

  3. The French accent in Canada is really different. I'm not sure the French from France understand it. As you mentioned, the French are less fat but Obesity and overweight have been increasing in France since the 90's.

    French online