|Personal Picture - Home made Pumpkin & Chestnut spice cake|
After reading Dominique Loreau's l'Art de la Simplicité again this summer, I have decided to write small "simplicity chapters" summarizing my own views on various elements of life. As a follow up to my first post on Quality, here is the second Simplicity mini-chapter, exploring the subject of food and all there is around it.
Since I am no nutritionist, I will not go into diet recommendations or nutrition rules. I believe that, since we each have our own metabolism and lifestyle, one's own food habits should be tailored to these specific needs What I would like to share today is my global vision on how I approach not only food itself, but all the moments around meals, what we call in French les arts de la table.
The Dukan Anecdote
The Dukan diet is simple: you have a list of high protein, low fat no carbs foods you are allowed to eat (chicken breast, eggs, low fat plain yoghurts for example). These are the ONLY food you can eat, but you can have as much as you want. No need to say, despite my attempts at inventivity in the kitchen, after one month, I was bored to death with stuffing myself silly of the same tasteless crap.
In the end, I did manage to lose my Christmas pounds, and I spent all of September reclaiming all the food I was missing, which was, oddly enough, not pizza or chocolate but vegetables and fruit (I lost a few more pounds that month, ironically).
After that experience, I vouched to never resort to short term diets ever again - because it had messed up my food habits, made me too anxious about the food in my plate, caused a number of small health troubles, and made me dislike the meal time.
Health and Pleasure
We only have one body, and the food we choose to fuel it with has a huge impact on our health. My mother was always careful to feed us with organic, home cooked meals, so I didn't really realize the extent of that influence until that "Dukan month", when the lack of fat, fibers and carbs had a quick and alarming effect on my health.
My rules are now very simple at the kitchen: a bit of everything. As Mireille Guiliano says in her book French Women Don't Get Fat, the keywords here are "petit" and "peu", which both mean little or small. In my opinion, there is no forbidden food, as long as it is eaten is small quantities.
That being said, I tend to avoid processed food as much as possible. Simplicity in the kitchen is about eating a selection of fresh produce, seasoned with a few herbs and spices. I try to use a few ingredients of high quality, cooked simply to deliver their full flavor.
I have always liked the meal time. Not only the pleasure of eating itself, but cooking new things, discovering new restaurants with friends, try new dishes. One of my favourite shows on TV was "Fourchette et Sac à dos", where the presenter would travel to all kinds of places in the world, and taste the local cuisine.
There are very simple ways to make a meal more enjoyable, the first of which being diversity. I like to cook with seasonal products, not only are they cheaper and more tasty, it makes me discover new foods and try new combinations.
I also like to pay attention to the presentation of my food, even (especially) when I eat alone. A table nicely presented, with fresh flowers, beautiful linen, simple plates and cutlery, and the food nicely disposed on the plate gives more meaning to the moment. It helps being more mindful of what I eat, enjoy it more.
|Lunchbox for work|
Finally, in my opinion, as long as the balance between health and pleasure is preserved, there is no reason to consider food as an enemy. There is nothing wrong in rewarding onself with a good meal, so long as it is practiced in moderation and indeed pleasurable. I also believe that, in today's society, we need to reclaim a simpler relationship to food.
As a conclusion, I don't think my views on food are anything extraordinary, probably just a mix of my culture and traditions, combined with my interest for cooking experiments. What about you? Is it my French culture that places les arts de la table in such a high regard, or do you also enjoy discovering new foods and eating in nice plates?
Previous simplicity chapter: Quality.