“Mwah! Look at me, I am a big sausage!” I am walking through the room dramatically, landing hard on each of my feet. “Watch out, my fat sausage tread might bring the house down!”
“Quoi?” MB is amused but not sure why.
“What do you mean “quoi”,” I ask. “I’m a sausage person…obviously.”
“I don’t know what this is, a “sausage person”.”
“It’s a fatty, it’s a big fat fatty which is what I have become. Do you see this?” I lift one of my legs. “My jeans are so tight that my thighs look like encased sausages.”
“You are ridiculous.”
“Really, first trimester?” I raise an eyebrow at the little belly that MB has developed.
His jaw drops in mock horror.
“Dude, I’m just sayin’, we gotta go on a diet.”
For the first four months of the year, MB and I had eight visitors stay with us. While this was a whole lot of fun it also means that we did a whole lot of eating. For each new visitor we had particular cheeses, restaurants, or regional specialties for them to try, and in effect, for us to try. Normally, MB and I go out to dinner once a week; but with the onslaught of visitors, we were having “special occasion” meals almost every single night. There is no amount of exercise that can burn off daily three-course dinners so naturally, he and I both put on a few pounds. At first it wasn’t so bad, the clothes were a little tight, MB started to get a wee belly but after month three things had gotten out of hand. I was starting to have trouble figuring out where my chin ended and my neck began. So, for the past month, MB and I have been dieting which has been an interesting experience.
Dieting in France is both easy and complicated.
On the one hand, it was easy to cut massive amounts of fat out of our diet by doing things like not having foie gras and duck confit every day (crazy, I know, but it works). On the other hand, deciding that you are going to diet in France and try to avoid high fat cuisine basically means that you are eating at home. At the French restaurants in our town there are almost no low-fat options. You want a salad? That is great, it will come with lardons, goat cheese, possibly an egg (or my favorite salad which comes with magret canard, gesiers, and foie gras). You want to get the fish? Excellent, monsieur. That will be accompanied with a cream sauce.
I remember one of our visitors telling me that she just wanted to have a light meal at the restaurant that evening. She decided to take the salmon…which came with a cream sauce.
“That’s okay,” she said. “I will just have the vegetable side dish.”
She asked the waiter what the vegetable option was. It was potatoes Sardalaise. That would be, potatoes cooked in garlic and duck fat. Enjoy your “light” dinner.
So basically, in France, I think it has to be all or nothing. If you want to diet, or go on a “régime” (even the French word for diet sounds malevolent) then you better make your own food at home because you are not going to find diet food at a restaurant. Although, note that even at home you must be vigilant. In one of MB’s French cookbooks pasta carbonara is listed under “legumes” (vegetables). I mean, come on! So, at the end of the day, dieting in France takes a huge amount of self-control, a lot of dinners at home, and not believing the cookbooks when they tell you that a crème fraîche and bacon salad is a vegetable.