This is part of a two part post
just a typical market in Paris…
So back to L’hotel Amour. One night I was tired of working at home, so I grabbed my laptop and sat at a table on my own. I ordered a petite salad Nicoise with no dressing and a glass of wine and typed away, while at the table next to mine two very stylish French men ordered dinner. I watched, captivated, as they sipped their wine and slowly ate every morsel of pâté and greens on their plates, along with an entire basket of baguette, laughing, chatting and truly enjoying each other’s company.
There I was with my laptop, boring salad and wine, hardly paying attention to any of it because now I’d become fascinated with the duo next to me. They did this thing that I now call the “lean back.” When someone is talking, the person across actually listens fully, perhaps with fork and knife in hand, perhaps not, but NOT eating. They actually listen and pay attention to the other person, not to their own next bite. Their dinner was about appreciating each other’s company, and THEN appreciating the food.
Well, I almost fell off my chair when the waitress brought over their main course. Two huge entrecotes, piled high with crispy frites. What impressed me most was the pace of the meal – THEY set the pace, not the food or the wait staff. They put their forks down between each bite, they never talked with their mouths full, and they did the “lean back to listen.” They took the time to breathe.
That is European culture in a nutshell. They do this at every meal, every day. When I would go to dinner with my expat friends who have lived in Paris or some other European city for more than three years, they do the same. It’s not a trend, a political statement or diet – it’s a way of life.
I noticed the same thing when I visited my friend Marco in Milan. I’ve known the man for about ten years but to see him in his home territory – to notice it’s not that he eats slowly, or eats more or less than anyone else. It’s that he eats like an Italian. Et voila! My experiment and research began, and I spent the better part of my year in Paris observing, staring, taking notes and reviewing journals from years of travel through Europe and Asia. I came up with a lot of tools, tricks and tips. Iv’e broken my information down into steps that I know would be an entertaining and potentially life-changing book. Because it works.
So now I’m in Miami. Can I eat like a French girl here? I’m trying and it’s working. And you know what? I really like it. I’m sitting when I eat, I’m putting my fork down between bites and most importantly, I’m breathing. It’s delightful. Honestly, it’s a challenge, but it feels good.