|“I’m proud of you.” Isn’t that sweet?|
Getting back to our conversation about weight and eating well and exercising and all the rest. . .
As I mentioned earlier in the week I interviewed Alexandra, my French niece, a doctor, and my great pal, Christine, our pharmacist. Age-wise they are at the debut of their decades, 50s and 40s, respectively. Both have daughters. Both are slim, active and eat well. Neither one takes vitamins or minerals in capsule form. They vehemently insist upon getting their nutrients from the food they conscientiously buy, prepare and consume with pleasure. Both are exceedingly busy in their professional and personal lives and neither depends upon “fast food” solutions to every day dinners en famille.
It is only fair to add at this point however, that both have husbands who are excellent cooks, which, they admit, makes their lives infinitely more pleasant. Alain, Alexandra’s husband, learned the fine art of fine cuisine from his mother. He is a remarkable cook and prides himself on delicious sauces for leisurely Sunday lunches. In other words his rich béchamel,hollandaise, bérnaise or beurre blancsauces areweekend exceptions, not daily indulgences.
If you click below the pictures you will be directed to a recipe for each sauce.
|The classic “steak frites” made even better with a sauce béarnaise.|
|What is more French, more divine than asparagus with a perfect sauce Hollandaise?|
I went into my interviews with this question: “French women are obsessed about being thin, true or false?”
The first response from both was: “French women are more concerned about their health and eating well.”
Moi: “OK, fine. I get it, but let’s go back to my question.”
Alexandra: “Being relatively slim is part of being healthy, but I do not think there is an obsession about being slender. I think that is an old way of thinking. Today I’m convinced no one is unfavorably judging women who are un peu ronde.
“We’re much more concerned about health and well-being. I would also like to think that if anyone is judging us it’s on other qualities like intelligence and kindness.”
Moi: “Great. I would like to believe what you’re saying is 100 percent true, but I have my doubts. You, for example, how important is it for you to remain thin?”
Alexandra: “Because I am a doctor and because I work with the ministry of health and not only read, but also examine and report on the studies that have been made over the last decades, I know that a certain weight — not necessarily thin — is one of the factors that prevents serious diseases.
“I want to be healthy. Eating properly — lots of vegetables and fruits, protein, some butter, good oils, cheese as a treat exception, an occasional glass of red wine — keeps my weight constant. I do eat desserts occasionally. I never feel deprived. I also exercise. When, however, and I know this is what you’re asking me, I gain a kilo or two I feel it and do a ‘detox’ (I’ve come to hate the ramification of that word, but you know what I mean) of vegetable bouillon, lots of vegetables and a little bit of protein from fish or chicken and in two days I’m back to my normal.
“I haven’t stepped on a scale since I was in my 30s. I refuse to be a slave to numbers.”
|No scales for them. This is how they tell if they have to “pull back.”|
Christine: “OK, let’s be honest. First I care about my health and then right up alongside of that major concern I like and want to be thin. You may think it’s easy for me because I am quite slender, but I’m very careful.
“Even though I’m surrounded by weight-loss and detox products in the pharmacy, I do not recommend them to my clients nor do I use them myself. The ones I have are all natural, made from plants and mostly act as either drainers for water weight or appetite suppressors which basically consist of some form of seaweed that makes the stomach feel full. It also makes one feel bloated.
“Women ask for these products and I tell them they are not long term solutions and they’re definitely not miracles. I don’t feel as if I’m in the business of selling false hope.”
Moi: “Now we’re getting somewhere.”
Christine: “I never step on a scale. I was bulimic when I was young and I refuse to ever fall into that trap again. I know when I feel good about myself and I know when I feel well.
“Weight is never a subject in our house, eating properly is. With my twins I think one will be very thin and the other un pea ronde and that’s fine.
|Christine makes her own bread with one of these. “Honestly, it’s fun and restful to make your own bread,” she said.|
“I have banished cow’s milk products from our lives. We use unsweetened almond milk and when we have cheese, which is a treat and therefore an exception, it is always goat or sheep. I also make our bread. It’s easy and fun. No one in the family is allergic to gluten, but I’ve found the less I eat, the better I feel so my bread is gluten free. (And, yes, I know it’s a fad now, but I decided to try it just to see what it was all about and be able to talk about it from my personal experience with my clients. Now I feel better, simple as that so even though I’m not a maniac about gluten, I prefer not to eat it when possible.)
|One of Christine’s gluten free bread recipes calls for chestnut flour. If you read a little French, click here. She says it’s absolutely delicious and I don’t doubt it. She has promised to make some for me. Imagine her bread with sea salt butter.|
“Another thing that preoccupies my nutrition concerns for my family is processed grains. We are being bombarded with magazine articles and television programs about eating grains, but we must be conscientious about choosing them with care. We have never had a box of processed cereal in our house.”
Et voilà, that about covers my brief interviews. If you would like me to ask them questions on your behalf (or just drop this subject entirely), please let me know.