Category Archives: food

french women

after a very indulgent christmas and new year period i am now gently thinking a little more purposefully about what i’m putting on my plate (see my previous post here for more ideas on this topic).   i know it’s very cliché but here in Paris – and especially here in the affluent ‘new money’ 16eme arrondissement – for the most part, french women don’t get fat.

walking around the neighbourhood one is not only exposed to the array of extremely well dressed men and women but those who are also tremendously slim.  a couple of times (even with my glasses on) from across a narrow street i was shocked to have mistaken a possibly 60-year-old woman for a woman in her 20s.  due to her dress sense and sheer size this woman performed a photoshop style optical illusion right before my eyes.

since this incident i have had my eyes peeled for such phenomena and have witnessed several more examples also from the male sector of the community. it cannot be denied that parisians are particularly good at this trick.

a lot of people say it’s about starving yourself, some say the french are just built lightly from the beginning and for others perhaps it’s the symptom of a hectic stressful working week.

however, mireille guiliano has different ideas, as demonstrated in a series of books i have been hooked on for some time now – french women don’t get fat.  a lot of the content speaks of portion control and nutritional awareness however she believes the most important aspect to getting rid of and keeping away unwanted extra weight is through the thorough enjoyment of the pleasure of eating. i like this concept a lot!  guilt and food always seems to be an unhealthy combination to me – for the body, mind and spirit.

she includes a handful of easy practical tips for the post holiday wind down too.  So, needless to say I am currently eagerly devouring mireille guiliano’s words and recipes from her french women don’t get fat cookbook.

you must read any one of her books for yourself to truly understand what this woman is about but i really believe that it’s her love and passion for delicious food that inspires me to eat more consciously.

i love this line of her biography,

mireille’s three favourite pastimes – breakfast, lunch and dinner

moi aussi, mirelle!



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oh sugar sugar

hands up, who else has a sugar addiction?

you may not be the blatant kind of addict who likes to put too much in your tea or snack on lollies/candy/bonbon all day or pour half the sugar jar in with your weet-bix in the morning.  or you might be.

or you may be the more discreet style of addict (like me) who snacks on pastries after lunch and pours streams of honey into her mint tea.  or maybe you enjoy a few lines of your favourite chocolate during the week as a little reward to one’s self for coping with… well, one’s week at large.  in fact, good quality chocolate is an intimate friend of mine.  although i try to stick to the dark, less sugary, less fatty kind and often opt for organic – green&blacks 85% is my absolute favourite – i still tend to binge on the less healthy kind far too often.

oh and if anyone has heard of angelina on rue de rivoli here in paris you will understand what i mean when i rant about the impossibility of passing by that place without stopping for one of their luscious ‘africain’ hot chocolates. but that deserves a whole other post entirely to itself.

my point is this: whatever your sweet drug of choice, if it’s derived from or includes any sugar you can be sure it is oh so bad for you.  i recently came across a post by sarah wilson, an australian journalist, and television producer/personality, who has an excellent blog about the betterment of self.  she will post an article on the topic of how bad sugar is for you on her blog in a five part series over the next couple of weeks.

she outlines that back in the day (around 200 years ago and earlier) humans barely ate sugar and only that which can be found in fruit or honey, which was scarce or difficult to come by until fairly recently on the scale of human existence.  so the body’s survival mechanisms are set to store as much of this kind of energy source as possible due to it’s belief in this scarcity.  so basically, we are biologically programmed to gorge on this kind of food if and whenever it is in reach… no wonder it’s so difficult to resist the little lemon tart in the window on the way home from work.

there’s so much more info on sarah wilsons’ post on the topic (found by clicking this link) than i can fit into one post but briefly:

the energy highs and lows of sugar addiction are damaging to not only your own brain but especially the developing brain of children and adolescents

there is more and more scientific evidence displaying that it is sugar and not fat that produces the excess unwanted fat in our bodies

there have been studies that show that sugar is more addictive than cocaine

sarah is bravely committing to quitting sugar entirely for a month.  i’m not sure i will be quite as saintly but i’m definitely going to lay off the sugary treats and when i next walk by the patisserie/boulangerie i will make sure i don’t go in. it should be especially beneficial after the holiday period!

maybe i can limit my sugar to the weekends and make sure it’s truly more of a nibble than a binge…


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“mac doh”

image by don mac illustration

pronounced “mac doh” is the frenchy nickname for the worlds most loved and hated fast food outlet. these crazy parisians seem to love it.  i’m at the indifferent/hate end of the spectrum.  the grease is alright when severely hungover – but i certainly find better quality grease elsewhere.  and besides all the well known and publicised massive corporate, environmental, health, economic issues,

THE COFFEE IS SO SO SO SO BAD. why am i drinking it then? especially in a city where good coffee is abundant and cheap? you might ask.  because i don’t have any internet connection in my bleeeping apartment at the moment and the bleeeeping cafe where i might otherwise have connected and had a NICE coffee is CLOSED.  and i can’t sit here and use the internet unless i buy something from this godforsaken place.

IF there’s a next time
i’ll be opting for water.


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mint junky

just a quick, happy little post about mint:
mint makes me a very happy girl.

i like to share a cup of mint tea with my best friend amanda (who i miss terribly) on her kitchen counter and scoff baklava.

i like to put fresh mint in the tea-cup whenever i can because it looks beautiful, it tastes so much more lush and the slightly woody sweet aroma is so nice to bury your nose in.

it’s great in cocktails and perfect to add to some lemonade as a ‘nana’s tonic’ for nausea  – or just because.

i also like to add it to salads, especially in the summertime for its cooling effects.  in fact, i like it all year round.

and the best thing is that it will grow like a weed in your garden – even if you’re not careful.  i have to credit one of my other more beautiful friends, kel for teaching me that little factoid.

something extremely simple and relatively quite impressive to do with mint is to use it in the following salad from smitten kitchen.  i tried it at a dinner party once and despite the effort i made perfecting two other salads, fresh tuna steaks AND desert for eight of us, tout seul! (all on my own!) i gained the most compliments and “mmm” noises from this here little carrot salad.

give it a whirl (but please don’t leave out the chilli – the minty cool and chilli hot all at once is really delightful):

carrot salad with harissa, feta and mint
(courtesy of smitten kitchen)

3/4 pound carrots, peeled, trimmed and coarsely grated
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 crushed clove of garlic
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds or about half as much, ground (i substituted this with coriander seeds which i think worked on the ‘cool’ side, accompanying the mint)
3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds or about half as much, ground
1/2 teaspoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon harissa (for a solid kick of heat; adjust yours to taste, and to the heat level of your harissa)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped (i like to put more as i am a mint junky)
100 grams feta, crumbled or chopped into bits

in a small sauté pan, cook the garlic, caraway, cumin, paprika, harissa and sugar in the oil until fragrant, about one to two minutes. remove from heat and add the lemon juice and a pinch of salt. pour over the carrots and mix. add the herbs and mix. leave to infuse for an hour and add the feta before eating.

harissa: is a north african chile paste.
nb: can be substituted with sambal olek (almost its indonesian equivalent) or any other savoury chilli paste you can get your hands on.





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eating in edinburgh, to the dogs




hello 2011!


days, months, years, time ayyy. time just keeps on moving (depending on your perspective) forward. like birthdays, the new year is just a number and a great excuse for a party really.  nice


how was your christmas?  the love of my life whisked me away to edinburgh for a week over the holiday period and besides the whole ‘white christmas’ thing and the location itself being absolutely spectacular, boy did we eat.  i think missing our family and usual holiday traditions was compensated for by lots and lots of good food.  i became especially friendly with some of scotland’s favourites: haggis and tatttie scones.


from our favourite local pub, deacon brodies, to the chain-y diner restaurant option down the road named the filling station (who delivered on the promise of it’s name, much to the delight and amusement of my boyfriend), to the beautiful little christmas markets in the centre of town where we tried some amazing venison burgers, i found the local cuisine to be consistently delicious, hearty and warming.


one particularly awesome place to eat was located a couple of blocks away from the centre of town and is one i feel deserves a little schpeil.


introducing the dogs.   i urge you, if ever in edinburgh, please schedule a short stop here.  founder, david ramsden has crafted a simple, fresh and homely little space where the cutlery and serviette is handed to you in your (large!) water glass as you are seated, the dark wood furniture doesn’t match and your food is served in old-school, home-style dining ware.  the lights are low, the wines are tasty, the staff are casual and friendly, the prices are sweet and most importantly the food is superb.


i am under the impression the ambiance here follows the new wave of “the casualization” of  fine dining.  i certainly felt more comfortable than usual dining out in this setting and am excited to find and read about it’s influence spreading all over europe at the moment (the art of eating issue no. 82).


the two of us ate three courses each and of particular mention was an entree of chicken liver pate with red onion jam, and after having a disappointingly dry serving of turkey at the hotel’s christmas lunch, my turkey karma was suitably re-aligned with an impressive main of pan fried turkey breast with carrot and parsnip mash, cranberry and chestnut jus – complete with stuffing!   it was to die for.  i don’t think i said much at all from the first bite to the last, rapped in the delight of it.  i must also mention my man friend’s desert: whisky jelly, oatmeal cream and raspberry sorbet.  i called it genius a the time and i can still remember the taste of the tiny spoonful i managed to pilfer.


having been wow-ed so thoroughly i did some research directly after this and found that just next door is a sister restaurant, amore dogs with under dogs below that and sea dogs just a couple of blocks away. ten points for guessing the themes for these little joints (click on the links to find out if you’re right – also please take note of the cute logos!)


the man and i visited sea dogs a couple of nights later and left far from disappointed.  the only regret we shared was that we didn’t have time to visit the remaining members of the dogs family during our stay in edinburgh.


to the dogs!


p.s. all images are courtesy of the dogs website


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