Why French women don’t get fat…and other musings

Because they eat cheese and bread for dinner. That’s it. No entree or side dish. No water to wash it down with. No need to read all those books and articlesC’est verité. 

I know this because not only did I do such a thing on my first night in Paris and still heard my stomach growling at the end of the night, but the lovely (and perfectly trim) Adeline confirmed it as we drank our wine and ate piece after piece of cheese with bread (plus a few grapes and walnuts for good measure). The table next to us did the same, but also ordered fries. Oh, how I wanted the fries!

Apparently, the French don’t snack either, which just baffles me. How does one resist all the patisseries ON EVERY CORNER?! I suppose the same way I resisted getting banana bread pudding every time I walked by Magnolia in the West Village. The thing is, despite Magnolia having become a chain, there still aren’t as many bakeries—including the the famed SATC cupcake factory—in all of New York City as there are patisseries and boulangeries here in Paris. They even have two names for them—and mon dieu! Each little perfectly-sized portion of butter and cream and sugar all just look so damn good. So far, I have only had one fig tarte from Sebastien Gaudard. It’s supposedly one of the best patisseries in the whole damn city and it’s FEET—sorry METERS—from my flat.

Une patisserie!

Une patisserie!

The sweet treats and cheese aren’t the only tempting nourriture, either. Even the fish and the smelly, marble-y meat in the windows of the boucheries are enticing.

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Reflections in a boucherie

There are so many fromageries and poissoneries and other “ries” right off the block I’m living on, it’s as if this Rue de Martyrs were Bleecker Street with its Murray’s Cheese and Amy’s Bread and Ottomanelli. While I didn’t necessarily shop at any of the aforementioned speciality shops on a regular basis due to lack of funds (and lack of spare daily calories), this is Paris! How am I expected to buy the cheaper, pre-packed jamon or chevre from the Mono Prix when all this good stuff has me surrounded???

I’ll tell you: When you realize you have absolutely no idea how to tell the person working at the fromagerie how much cheese you want. Or what kind you like. So you get something like this from the supermarché instead.

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You also stand in front of the packaged meats for a good 12 minutes trying to choose one. I was like, ‘Oh, this one looks good and it’s cheap!’ and then I realized it’s because THERE ARE ONLY TWO SLICES IN THERE. Right.

Meat by the slice? Oui!

Meat by the slice? Oui!

Milk was even harder. It’s not enough to know the word for milk is “lait.” Where the heck’s the 2%? Or skim? I’ve already resigned myself to drinking my coffee black. (Perhaps that’s another reason French women don’t get fat!)

Lait = tres difficile.

Lait = tres difficile.

Yogurt, on the other hand, I couldn’t live without and just went for something that seemed to say “Greek,” which is my preferred culture of choice. That said, it must be full-on fat because it tasted too damn good to be Weight Watchers approved.

Hopefully, by the time I have to buy laundry detergent I’ll know how to read the label so I can avoid doing three “washes” with fabric softener as I did in London.

Speaking of London, aside from deciphering—and trying to resist—all the flavorful, fresh food, I cannot tell you how much easier this transition has been compared to Blighty back in 2013. With the exception of the inevitable language difficulties, streets are so much easier to navigate here and nearly everything I could possibly need is within walking distance. And I’m not just talkin’ any ‘ole shampoo or mascara or toilet paper holder from Sainsbury’s, either. I’m talkin’ Kerastase and Lancome and some funky dispenser that looks like a polaroid camera. Maybe it’s just the location of my flat, but there’s no shortage of shops to suit my to-do list. There will be no aimless wandering for hangers or a scented candle or a shoemaker. I even walked by at least five different nail salons!

My mother and sister laughed at me for wanting to pack scissors and tape and a bathmat, but I guess I was scarred from having to navigate my way through Way-the-F-Wapping in “Britain’s Great Freeze” for such basic items. Here, I may never need to leave the confines of the 9th arrondissement. Of course, I will though. Eventually. I’m just not in a rush. After all, why rush myself into a sweaty tizzy when I’ll be eating cheese and bread for dinner to keep trim?*

*Until I find a regular yoga practice and running route. Then, bring on the frites! 

4 thoughts on “Why French women don’t get fat…and other musings

  1. It’s about time you drink your coffee black! And you WILL get the hang of the kilo/gram thing…makes much more sense anyway! The more you write the sooner I want to visit!xoxo

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