Hey girl, I’m posting from Paris again today! Yesterday I was trying to get over the Mama traveler blues and my hypocritical sadness over leaving the kids who I want to escape from most days. Today, I’m sharing why these French b*tches are so much skinnier than us. (Oops, did I just say that? Pardonnez-moi.)
1. Mustard is the condiment of choice. Not butter, not cheese, not oil. Mustard. The perfectly high-fructose-corn-syrup-free condiment. (Of course, they cook everything in butter so no need to add it as a condiment. But I digress. And you don’t have to order those things either.) Unlike ketchup, mustard has no sugar and almost no calories. Done and done. And it’s amazingly tasty. It goes with salad, bread, meats and cheese. There is literally nothing not to love about this stuff. It’s good for you, and it’s delicious. Take that, mayo. You just got served, you fatty little loser.
2. They don’t serve cream with their coffee. Yes, that’s right. In Paris, anytime past noon, you get coffee with a spoon and a couple sugar packets, or a mound of sugar cubes. Or, if it’s breakfast time, you get café au lait (coffee with hot milk). Still faaaar from the fatty, thick cream that we love in America. I usually steer clear of sugar, but since it was my only option, I took my coffee yesterday with 1 packet of sugar. It was tooootally going to happen, since we’d been on a plane all night, it was 11am and our hotel room wasn’t going to be ready until 2pm. The coffee was delicious. Without the cream (or coconut milk, which is how I usually take my coffee), you can really taste the rich, raw, real coffee flavor.
3. They eat (and drink) small amounts of the bad stuff. Wine comes by the glass, or by the carafe. Sure, you can also order it by the bottle. But most Parisians order it, in the largest quantity, by the carafe. (We told our waiter last night not to judge when we ordered 4 carafes of Merlot. I know, I know, we are crazy Americans. But our kids aren’t here, so we’d really love another carafe. Please?) Even the wine glasses themselves are tiny, by American standards. Look at how my hand dwarfs the tiny glass. It forces you to slow down, and you no longer feel like you need to drink a huge, bowl-sized glass of red wine. (But don’t worry, I still did. I am an American, after all.) Everything is in small amounts in Paris. Even the mustard spoon is tiny. It probably can’t hold more than 1/8 of a teaspoon. In America, you know this spoon would be big enough for a huge dollop of at least 2 tablespoons. You also can’t buy huge amounts of groceries at a time. We walked a ton today, and I’m pretty sure I never came across a Sam’s Club or Costco. To stock their kitchens, Parisians have to walk to their corner grocery store, and they can only buy whatever they can carry home. That means all that’s in their kitchen is what they can carry. Not to mention, their food doesn’t have the preservatives that ours does, so if they don’t eat it, it will spoil. I haven’t been in a Parisian’s kitchen yet (I can barely get the people here to smile at my American presence, much less invite me into their homes), but I’m willing to bet I wouldn’t find a gallon of hot sauce in their pantry, or 30 pounds of ground beef in their freezer. Small, fresh quantities. They simply don’t have the option, or the space, for huge impulse food purchases.
4. They eat large amounts of the good stuff. I have never seen salads this big in the United States. And I’m not talking about the platter-sized salads from Chili’s or Applebee’s, where a few lettuce chunks are drowning in bacon, Ranch dressing, shredded cheese and fried chicken. Nope, these salads are fresh, green and huge. I’d say they’re like 80% lettuce, and the rest is delicious veggies. It’s all topped with a light drizzle of dressing, which is the same amazing flavor at every cafe. I’m guessing some combination of Dijon mustard, lemon, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Delicious, tangy, light and not terribly fattening.
5. Their salads are always interesting. I have yet to receive a salad with stale iceberg lettuce, a few shredded carrots and a dry, pink tomato wedge. The salads here are fresh, different and always unique. Like the greens with shredded beets my husband had with his grilled cheese. Or the butter lettuce I got at the cafe across from the Louvre, which was topped with watermelon, pineapple, pomegranate and shrimp. Blew. My. Mind. Let me tell you: the French do not put the salad in a box. And I love that. Because it means that every time I order a salad, it’s going to be unique, different and outside the box. And that’s a great way to avoid a veggie rut.
6. They walk everywhere. Even in the rain. Because they have to. If you want to get around Paris, chances are you can’t afford to take a €20 ($30) taxi ride everyday from place to place. And the Metro can be slow and cumbersome. So you walk. Even in the rain. The first day we were here, it was gray and drizzly, and I’m pretty sure the locals didn’t care at all. ‘Cause they were out. Everywhere.
7. They smoke. Not something that I endorse, but facts are facts. Europeans smoke a ton. Every time I have an urge to cough loudly, to let the person next to me to let them know that I don’t appreciate their second-hand smoke, I stop myself. I’m in their country, and this is the norm.
8. Peanuts or olives are their snack foods of choice. Like most healthy choices, it’s not rocket science. If you have a huge bowl of chips or French fries next to you when you are drinking a couple pints of beer, let me speak from experience: you will eat them all. And then you will feel like a fat pig. The French seem to know this. Maybe that’s why they serve peanuts or olives whenever you order a delicious, cold pint of sweet beer. For instance, when my husband and I ordered 2 Pelforth beers at a sidewalk cafe near Notre Dame, the bar maid served them with a bowl of about 2 tablespoons of garlic-glazed peanuts. Not a fried food and not a huge amount of it. And, at the sidewalk cafe near the Eiffel Tower when my husband was mad we couldn’t use our Visa card to get on the Metro, we sat down and ordered a couple more beers. Served right next to them, olives. Not chips, not nachos, not French fries. Salty, cold, meaty olives. They were a tasty, salty counterpoint to the sweet beer. Waaaaay better than a platterful of nasty cheesy nachos where you end up licking the ground beef off your hands because the chips are so damp they can’t hold all the toppings. Plus, it leaves more room in the belly for the beer. Win.