A Critique of the French Meal

There is, however, no wrong time for a macaron

Over the last four months, I studied the French diet from its history to its downfall and its current resurrection. I found all sorts of paradoxs, problems, and packaged foods, I spoke to American and Australian expats, nationalist French, liberal French, and all that’s in between. While my 50 page photo journal evolved into an expose on how they’re fighting obesity, I’m still not entirely convinced that they’re so culinarily and nutritionally savvy. I’ll even go so far as to say that I completely disagree with how the French meals are staggered throughout the day. Granted, I am also biased because I am sensitive to being critiqued for my own eating habits (which is why I finally screamed at a group of men for saying “bon appetit” with a vulgar connotation after I was trying to get my fuel on after 90 minutes of yoga…Now I realize that it really is a cultural remnant commoditized from her highness Julia Child) but I often felt incredibly judged for so much as eating a snack (ahem goji berries, apples, carrots, almonds) that I would consider a light meal. The funny part is that there’s nothing wrong with them chewing on baguettes like gum, morning, noon, and night. These people literally eat bread with their bread.

So here’s what I realized. I don’t like French meals. Not just because they’re full of foods I can’t eat (aka bread and cheese) but because I simply can’t finish them unless I’m going for the whole thanksgiving-after-effect thing and have 6 hours and a barcalounger, which never happens because these dinners start an hour or two after I would normally finish eating.

What it all boils down to, for me, is that we basically eat the same amount of food (we being the non-fat, educated coastal Americans) only my courses are just far more spread out. So, in essence, I win because my meal is 6 hours long instead of 2. But really, I think it’s time for them to re-examine their judgments, as I’m not some fat American kid snacking on potato chips in between “meals” of hotdogs and oily burritos. I pace myself and my digestion by spacing out foods so they can digest without forcing me into the fetal position. Sure, I’m a little sensitive, but haven’t you heard of the the whole food combination theory? That certain foods should and should NOT be eaten together or in succession? So what you feel like you’re going to keel over and die after a meal it’s because your body is going into overdrive to figure out wtf to deal with first? Furthermore, I snack because my life in NYC is very athletic and very hectic so I constantly need to shove food in my mouth or I’ll forget, widdle down to 110 lbs, and scare the crap out of all my friends. So I end up like Brad Pitt in Oceans 11. Always snacking. Like a squirrel, shamelessly and incessantly. And that’s how I like it.

This might seem like a defensive rant, as if the straw finally broke my camels back about how much I can tolerate being chastised for my own consumptive patterns, but really, it’s more of a cry to Parisians to look in the mirror. Since you’re already thrown out a lot of your culinary traditions, maybe it’s time to assess the patterns you’ve got left to see if they’re really, fundamentally, worth it.

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