Friday, October 16, 2009

bon app├ętit

Julia hero.

Lately, I’ve become obsessed with food. I’ve been reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan and haven’t been able to put it down. I also, and I think this is a result of watching the new movie about Julia Child and the fact that I am in France, have made it my ambition to expand my knowledge on cooking and the art of taste (my life goal: to be able to cook like my Dad, Mom, and Oma). Here is an excerpt from Omnivore’s Dilemma that I believe is so true:
(To give you some context, Pollan has been talking about Americans’ susceptibility to food trends and diets because there is no established food culture in America as in other countries. His thesis is that Americans have a sort of twisted relationship with food)
“We Americans are amazed to learn that some of the cultures that set their culinary course by the lights of habit and pleasure rather than nutritional science and marketing are actually healthier than we are—that is, suffer a lower incidence of diet-related health troubles.
The French paradox is the most famous such case, though as Paul Rozin points out, the French don’t regard the matter as paradoxical at all. We Americans resort to that term because the French experience—a population of wine-swilling cheese eaters with lower rates of heart disease and obesity—confounds our orthodoxy about food. That orthodoxy regards certain tasty foods as poisons (carbs now, fats then), failing to appreciate that how we eat, and even how we feel about eating, may in the end be just as important as what we eat. The French eat all sorts of supposedly unhealthy foods, but they do it according to a strict and stable set of rules: They eat small portions and don’t go back for seconds; they don’t snack; they seldom eat alone; and communal meals are long, leisurely affairs. In other words, the French culture of food successfully negotiates the omnivore’s dilemma, allowing the French to enjoy their meals without ruining their health.”
I’ve never heard a more accurate description of how French people eat. With my grandparents, it is pretty usual for Sunday lunch to start at noon and end at 4:30 or 5. I kept on thinking about that while I read that excerpt.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Three steps to the French "look"

1. Drop 15 pounds.

2. Wear lots of stripes (this will offset the 15 lbs. you just lost)

3. Skinny jeans (the reason you lost the 15 lbs).

Okay, but seriously. Here are some other tips:

4. Flats, Converse (low-tops), and Bensimon…basically the rule with shoes is that you can’t have anything with arch support.

5. Make-up: none.

6. Hair: au naturel. Lately I’ve seen a lot of bobbed hairstyles. It’s really cute with curly hair. I don’t know that I could ever pull it off, but a lot of girls here make it look fantastic.

What amazes me about French style is that even though they look like they just rolled out of bed (and, honestly, they probably did), they always manage to look amazingly chic…it’s a sort of “rugged-chic.” Maybe it’s the “yes, I’m better than you” attitude that often accessorizes their wardrobe that makes the French look so classy. I don’t know. I’m really trying to figure it out. They make it look so easy.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

no "troubles" for me in northern ireland...

Mural in Belfast
Causeway Coast

Last week I rediscovered a truth I’ve known my entire life: Paris is the best city in the world. But, before I ramble on about how much I love that city (it is a thing I do really well…), let me ramble about my time in Ireland: It is true; the grass is greener on the other side of the channel and it is, without a doubt, due to the amount of rainfall it receives. Every single day was soaked in a sort of misty rain that I quickly learned is called wet rain. Wet rain…in comparison to what? Dry rain? I laughed when I first learned that this is how the Irish refer to that sort of rain, but they probably laughed at me when they saw me walking around with an umbrella. In Ireland, as I unpleasantly discovered, umbrellas are pointless because this “wet rain” often seems to be coming up from the ground. It sounds magical but I promise, it’s really just annoying.

Despite lacking appropriate attire for the weather, Ireland was wonderful. My first thought upon arriving in Dublin was “I wanna know where tha gooold at, give me tha gold, I want tha gold” (if you haven’t seen this video, please search “leprechaun in Mobile, Alabama” on YouTube immediately). After a few days in Dublin, I took a train to Coleraine in Northern Ireland to visit two friends who are studying abroad there. It was so good to spend a few days with friends. Together we visited Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, and had fun going out in Portstewart at night. Irish people were a breath of fresh air after having been in France for almost two months, and maybe it is because I had been in France for two months that the Irish seemed SO incredibly nice. Those of you who have been to France probably know what I mean when I say that French people live in bubbles. Once you are in that bubble, they are the nicest people you’ve ever met, but until then, most French people seem distant and haughty (I should probably add here that not ALL French people are like this…I like to think that my grandparents are very welcoming to foreigners and my best friend Pauline is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, from the moment we met). While I’m thinking of it, I hope my blog doesn’t sound mean or offensive…? I want to be honest about my experiences and so much of that involves the strangers I pass on the streets and the impressions I get from them. I like to think of this blog as a sort of cultural commentary.

This is getting long so I will quickly summarize the rest of Ireland. I went to Belfast and had so much fun, even though I was alone. It is incredible seeing the scars left on the city from the “troubles” that happened throughout the 20th century. I went on a tour of the neighborhoods where most of the fighting was. Honestly, the buildings looked a lot like those one might find in the Mississippi delta…falling apart. It was so fascinating though, especially seeing the murals everywhere commemorating people who died in the fighting. It is strange being in a place where people my age have known and lived through such violence. It is so recent. A few fun facts about Belfast: it is the birthplace of C.S. Lewis (I love him) AND the Titanic, and, lastly, when the city decided to create a hockey team, they almost named the team the Belfast Bombers. This was rejected, however, and today they are the Belfast Giants.

A friend forwarded me an email called “The American’s Guide to France” and, within it, I found many laughs. Earlier when I wrote about French people being distant, I was reminded of the email. Here is an excerpt; I hope it makes you laugh like I did:

France has a population of 57 million people. 52 million of these drink and smoke (the other 5 million are small children). All French people drive like lunatics, are dangerously over sexed, and have no concept of standing patiently in line. The French people are in general gloomy, temperamental, proud, arrogant, aloof, and undisciplined; those are their good points. Most French citizens are Roman Catholic, though you would hardly guess it from their behavior. Many people are communists.

Haha. That excerpt is from the part entitled “The People.” Here is an excerpt from “Economy”:

France has a large and diversified economy, second only to Germany’s in Europe, which is surprising because the French hardly work at all. If they are not spending four hours dawdling over lunch, they are on strike and blocking the roads with their trucks and tractors.

France’s principal exports, in order of importance to the economy, are wine, nuclear weapons, perfume, guided missiles, champagne, guns, grenade launchers, land mines, tanks, attack aircraft, miscellaneous armaments, and cheese.

But, my favorite is “Conclusion”:

At least it’s not Germany!!

Well, I think I’ve reached the limit on this blog. I will write about Paris very soon though, not because you want to read about it, but because I love talking about that city. Ooh la la, Paris j’adore!

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