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.