You know your in France, when your husband starts making crepes everyday, your eldest childs favourite cheese is camembert, your calling baguettes by their real name not the inept name of “french stick” and your other child is fussing about which croissant to have!
Yes, make no mistake about it, your in France and your culinary taste buds are about to explode…..welcome to a food lovers paradise! I know it sounds snooty all this talk about gourmet cheeses, fancy pastries and overindulgence in sweet and savoury delights, however, we are in FRANCE!! Not only is it impossible to avoid the boulangeries with their amazing choice of good sweets but it would be unFrenchlike not to! You can eat meringue, eclairs, profiteroles or French vanilla slices (again, not their real name!) and they are mouth wateringly good. The other advantage is that many of these things which you would expect to pay a fortune for back home, are not as expensive as you would think….a wheel of Camembert is the cheapest cheese you can buy at 1-2€ and baguettes and croissants are cheap at 80c compared to $3+ back home. These treats need no longer be reserved just for special Sunday mornings.
However, before you do go crazy and buy one of everything, it is worth doing as the French do… The French diet consists of lots of overly fatty and sugary products… much the same as our western diet, however given the sorts of food you could overindulge in, the French should be up there as the nation with the highest obesity rate per capita, but they are not. No, France is not even ranked in the top ten countries yet NZ, Australia, Canada, and the European countries of England, Ireland, Finland and Luxembourg are. The U.S is at number one and even Australia held the numero uno spot at one point. I was relieved to see we had dropped to 5. But we are still number 5.. I have no issue with being a top ten country but would rather it be for things like having some of the most liveable cities in the world!
So whats the secret? The French have small portions and eat less of the food thats not so good for you. No-one is going into the bakery and coming out with supersize me portions of chocolate eclairs, in fact most of the time there are more petit portions on offer than the normal sized ones. It’s all about having those one or two delightful bites, just enough to enjoy and savour the taste and just enough to want more…but that will have to wait for tomorrow….The French must have amazing self discipline.
We camped next to a French couple who very generously offered us some of their petit sponge gateaus (cakes). They had just shared their medium sized container of cakes amongst a large group of them, everyone took one and they were offering us the remaining eight…they weren’t saving them for later, for midnight snacks or early morning pick me ups. They were done. And you know what the four of us scoffed them down…wow they were good…yet what is it in our thinking to want and even crave huge, gianormous portions of food…it no longer becomes a taste sensation but a vomit sensation!!
Enjoying a plat du jour in France (menu of the day), is a similar experience.. It’s impossible not to feel like your fine dining when you get 3 reasonable sized delicious portions of food and all for an affordable 12€. The French just know how to make great food all the time. Even going for a bush walk in a National park in the south of france is a gourmet delight for the senses….we encountered lavender and rosemary bushes and even olive trees…
Another thing we noticed is the gusto with which the French enjoy their outdoour pursuits. The French are fanatic cyclists and walkers/hikers…that’s also bound to help them burn off any excess calories from the mornings pastry and coffee breakfast…!!
So the most important thing to remember when in France is not the “what should I eat” so much but remembering when to stop!