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Friday, September 17, 2010

French Girl Friday......

So here we are again,on French Girl Friday... taking a break from our road trip adventure, no worries, we will get back to it tomorrow. I LOVED this chapter this week. It covers one of my favorite subjects, besides fashion and decor, FOOD/EATING!!!

So....Chapter 4, La Cuisine.

This is a very long chapter. There is a lot of information, so much I truly would love to share!! But not wanting to copy word for word...and would be far too long to do so , and quite the once again I truly urge you to buy the book. I promise it is worth the 13.95 , you might even be able to find it for less on Amazon. I know budgets can be tight. 

As always I shall break it into section headings. But from a lot of them, this time I will include high lights that stood out to me as well as comments, if I have any. I will also , as always include the "Borrowed from"that give one the cliff notes from the sections included in the chapters. 

*The Ritual of Dining 
" Food invariably brings out the best in the French and he worst in Americans. We Anglo-Saxons starve ourselves counting calories but what we're really craving is pleasure and ritual."

I actually agree with this. Especially being in "diet mode" , I think for the most part I personally have found times that I can comfortably slip into the French attitude about eating. Others it is just nutrition and still others the horrible , at least to me, times of counting everything, calories, fat, fiber, how many glasses of water....I hate that. My health issues often warrant it, though I once could eat as the French did. Now if I often ate as the French do, I put on quite a bit of water weight that take me DAYS to get off. I bloat and well it is not pretty! 

 "The French girl knows this instinctively. Forget McDonalds or the advent of Starbucks-type cafes in Paris; the French girl does not live the take-out life. "

" You will rarely see the French girl eating in her car, munching on the road, or snacking in a check-out line. The French girl lives the sit-down, stay -seated, savor every-bite life."

"She eats each course separately and makes fast food slow" 

Oh how much I would love to train myself to eat like a French girl. With my current diet and penchant for water weight, I do skip the fast food places, but how I miss them! I have a huge love of fine food, BUT junk food is a real, true, often craving. And what would I do without my coffee to go?? I love a cafe, but they really do not exist if you do not live in a big city, or have a small town with one that is there to draw in tourists....I wish that was not the case.

Hmmm, yep, I eat in the car...not often anything past a snack, but when we traveled from CA to TX and then back again, yes, I ate in the car quite often. I do not care for it. I do prefer to sit down and be waited on. 

*Three Meals * No Snacks 
"After a particularly rich meal, or a weekend away with lots of eating and drinking, the French girl quickly, quietly and briefly compensates by scaling back for the next day or two. Water instead of wine, light meals with lots of fresh vegetables. This temporary adjustment keeps it all in balance, as it should be." 

This USED to work for me , but no longer does. I could balance an indulgence. But once again, due to my health issues, it takes more than one day of dialing back to undo any splurge I might have. But I am learning to deal with this and accepting it. I am still searching for a new trick that might work for me. 

 " French centenarian Jeanne Calmont said, " Every day, a bit of chocolate and port wine." The French girl knows that it might be the champagne, foie gras, and chocolate-eaten with discretion, moderation, and enthusiasm- that actually keeps her alive." 

I love to indulge, and always allow myself what I want from time to time. Real cream in my coffee, a sweet here and there, and the list goes on and on. I do not do it daily, and I am picky about what I do allow, but I savor each bite when I do so and I do not punish myself. 

 * Only Good Stuff
*Martine's Duck with Fruit
* The Fresh Rule
* The psychology of Shopping

" Shopping in large American -style French supermarkets is on the list of top ten most unpleasant experiences in France. "

"Instead, she does a light daily marketing for just the right ingredients necessary ti build a meal for the next day or so , or to restock on the essentials. "

I have to say I agree with the French here, large American shopping centers is always an unpleasant experience for me. I actually get angry, and nearly in panic state and a headache when I go to Wal Mart.  BUT I do so , not daily, but every two weeks....I still find, even though we are empty nesters, that I save more money shopping only every two weeks rather than daily or weekly, so I shall have to continue this practice! I thoroughly enjoy shopping at Trader Joes ( a small specialty grocery store in many states here in America) , less selection, easier choices, lots of fresh is just a joy to shop there. Also, a market that my daughter works at ,Nugget, though larger, still has entirely different feel and I often go there daily to add to our menu.  

 "Borrow A Page From the French Girl's Book: Eating
Take time to eat. Be ritualistic about preparing, serving, and eating your food. Remember that food and ritual connect you to the world. Be sensual about food, not utilitarian. Eat modest portions of excellent food, never giant portions of anything. Eat well or not at all. Indulge in simple pleasures."

I believe this is very wise, and something I very much want to work on. 

* In the Kitchen
"....first primers on cooking and eating the French way.....'You cannot serve a salad for a meal....get to know and love your butcher no matter what his politics might be . Make food with your bare hands. Always use cast iron . Use only whole milk, real butter, pure sugar, and fresh cream. And never, ever eat standing up.' " 

Ok , I have to break this one. I adore a salad for a meal during the Summer or when I am not that hungry, and from all the deals at Olive Garden and Fresh Choice restaurants, I am not alone! Also, I hate cleaning cast iron, so do not even own any! And well I do like real cream in my coffee and real butter on my toast, but have had to cut way back on sugar and use Truvia or Splenda when I can. I have been known to to stand when I eat, just a bad side effect from our life style I am afraid. 

  "The French girl is also careful to cultivate a few signature dishes for that memorable meal- somewhat fancier recipes than her basic eggs or salade. " 

I have quite a few that I am known for serving when we have guests and I am very on board with that.

* On the Table
* Le Vin 
" The French girl knows that good wine is not just for snobs or connoisseurs. It is both a staple and a genuine gesture of appreciation for herself and her guests"

Hubby and I agree!   

 * La Pain
"....In contrast to the baquette , which is light and white and fluffy...."
Wondering if they have bought any of our baquettes that are often like hard baseball bats!

 "...the French girl makes sure there is daily fresh, excellent quality bread ( and real butter) to accompany every meal."

If I did this, as much as I would love to , I would weigh so very much than I do now...oh how I adore good , fresh bread!

 *Le Fromage 
" It must be chosen carefully at least and creatively at best. And it must be a sensual experience of the most pungent, even tactile sort"

I very much agree. I love cheese shops, cheese counters that has an expert on hand...I love sampling , learning, choosing and bringing home wonderful cheeses. 

"And if you want to shock the French , try serving cheese before the meal rather than after it."  

Lordy, do I break this, I also serve it with the meal and well as a meal quite often and GASP a snack!!  Not something I wish to stop doing so, guess I fail at this..and shall always do so. I learned about the order of which the French ate food. I was once on the Suzanne Sommer's diet and she did food combining as her way of eating, guess she still does, and she learned it in France. I must say it did work to help with my weight loss for a time...but I missed having my burgers with a bun! Oh I could have that bun , at another time, just not with my protein...anyway, it was truly an interesting way to eat through the day. 

 *Le Cafe'
"A giant cup of rich coffee with steamed milk in the morning and a final cup ( no milk ) at the end of dinner- these are the Good Morning and Amen to a day filled with gastronomic pleasures. "
" The trick is not thinking of your coffee as a fix, like it's about taking time for the pleasure of a fine , thoughtfully prepared cup, alone or with family and friends." 

I like this idea. Though I rarely drink coffee at night and even more rare without milk. But I like the idea behind how they have their coffee.

 "Borrow A page from the French Girl's Book: Food
Be a food snob. If you're making a simple meal, make sure you have at least one outstanding item: an excellent vintage wine. A superb dessert. Know one recipe you can always execute perfectly . Always be prepared to whip up an impromptu cocktail. Improvise according to the beauty and seasonal life of food. 
Bake bread en famille . Break bread en famille . Cook by hand, from scratch. use all the senses when you cook . Become familiar with the basic beauty of flour , water , eggs, sugar and salt. be religious about family dinners. Turn off the TV. Don't answer the phone. Talk about what you're eating. Converse. Ask questions. Put your utensils down while you eat.Savor" 

I was once this way. My family was once this way. We still serve fine wine with even the most mundane of meals. We can make a superb dessert, but rarely do so. I rarely cook with recipes now. We do not do cocktails, and though I love fresh, seasonal food to cook with. It is not the norm around here, frozen, easy to fix and pre-done foods are sadly the norm. 

We also used to turn the TV off when the girls were younger, and I often even made my own bread when they were little. But life got complicated with a husband that was rarely home for meals, picky kids and then just how busy life was with them. Then , and not as an excuse, but more so a good reason, when I started getting the Fibro symptoms, and then arthritis, it became harder and harder to keep doing all that I had started out doing in the early years. Then , as the years went on and with being empty nesters and the girls rarely able to carve out time that jives with my husband being well as needing to make time for their boyfriends and their lives, well what I would love to have be what it suggests above, it simply is not to be. 

"The stubborn traditions that give everything a certain reassuring yet exhilarating detectability.....Food shapes the French girl and she , in turn is shaped by food. Empires may come and go, but there will always be la cuisine. " 

I suggest that we all work on implementing what we can to our eating/dining and food buying habits, even just a touch of the French Girl's way , the French way, could add that special touch to something in our life that often is either looked over as a mundane regular thing in our life, or a HUGE stress , or both .       


  1. I love the part about enjoying coffee. One of my favorite things to do is to get coffee out, in a mug and sit and enjoy it. :) I can't for fall to really hit.

  2. The French certainly have eating down pat. I love how they savor a meal and use amazing ingredients for their creations. I also prefer to shop more least for the fresh ingredients. Thoroughly enjoyed this post!

  3. Ahh, Le French part of me that I understand!!!

  4. I think I fail this chapter! I eat lunch at my desk and dinner in front of the TV, and I could never give up snacks. But I do have one thing down pat -- I genuinely enjoy eating. That's enough, no?


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