There are no shortage of blogs, and books and movies that paint France as a magical culinary wonderland.
My latest discovery is Rachel Khoo‘s cooking show for the BBC, The Little Paris Kitchen, which is ridiculously cute, and clearly a love letter from a British expat to Paris. Khoo is adorable in her vintage dresses and impeccable lipstick, unfussy in her delivery and clearly passionate about food.
She seems real enough to save the whole production from becoming too dreamlike, especially when the lighting and editing make the often drizzly and dreary city seem less drab. But it is clear that her perfectly cracked antique mixing bowl, darling charm bracelet and yes, her little kitchen, all have a marketable appeal that glosses over how annoying it must be to fold up her futon bed every day in her 21m2 sized apartment.
And while I don’t think that blogging about my own discoveries here is a misrepresentation of the reality, another expat friend of mine was quick to point out to me that the way French way of eating is changing, and the country is getting fatter.
In June of this year the obesity rate in France was 14.5%, up from 8.5% in 1997.
And the New York Times reported on the inroads that Jenny Craig is attempting in a French market, by changing not only the menu and packaging of its offerings, but also the more American “can-do” attitude about dieting, into something more French (read: more pessimistic).
But why do French people need to diet?
Yesterday, Lyon Plus ran an article stating that more and more people are taking just 35 minutes for lunch these days, and with budgets of 10 euro or less, they are naturally turning to fast food as a quick fix.
So, a lack of time and money are cutting into the mealtime rituals that used to make eating in France more a communal experience and kept French people naturally thin by savoring food, before they adopted more American habits like snacking and eating on the run.
Also, maybe because France is the #2 consumer of McDonald’s in the world!
I thought all the ads in the Paris metro for Mcmacarons were ridiculous, but apparently it’s a part of something larger at play.
Again, there’s two sides here. The macarons are sourced from Holder, the company that owns the often fetishized Ladurée, but uh, it’s still McDonald’s!
Apparently warnings on McDonald’s advertising to discourage the ‘abuse of fast food’ do not seem to be working. But maybe the slightly confusing 2010 campaign to appeal to gay diners is working.