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Eat like a French girl, in Miami

This is part one of a two entry piece.

I miss Paris. Admittedly, Miami is growing on me – ocean breezes, being surrounded by palm trees, radiantly warm sunny days. The food is not nearly as good, the streets not remotely as interesting and the markets don’t hold a candle to those in Paris. But I’m a beach girl at heart and according to my dear friend (and winemaker) Piero Incisa della Rocchetta’s theory, the terroir of a place changes you. Being surrounded by water is inherently calming and grounding, and makes one more focused. Piero says that Venetian food is the most elegant in Italy because of the terroir. I like his theory. I do feel calmer and my cooking is most certainly taking an elegant turn.

I’m not so easy when it comes to food. I like to eat a particular way. I love my green juice, my big salads, my dips and my raw veggies to dip in them. I don’t really eat bread, I don’t eat meat, and can go weeks without eating any animal products at all, without even noticing. I am not a vegan. I’m an omnivore with very particular eating habits. This is not a very French way of eating – Mediterranean perhaps but certainly not French.

France threw me a curveball and eating was a challenge, to say the least. I tried every survival skill I could think of from my mental-toolbox. I tried going with it, embracing the French diet. I tried diet books from years ago. I tried eating only cheese and salad. I tried eating like myself. I even tried eating meat! But all this only made it harder.

I had my Aha moment one evening at the very chic Hotel Amour in the 9th Arrondissement in Paris. (I’ll tell you that story in my next entry) I’d spent the better part of a year micro-observing Europeans eat, and sourcing memories of eating and living around the world, and I came up with a theory. The French and Italians – Europeans in general – are thin and mostly without food issues because they take the time to slow down and enjoy real food. They eat with the seasons, and they use spices and herbs. They don’t really snack and they don’t mindlessly munch. They eat meals. This isn’t rocket science and I’m not the first person to come up with it.

In essence: Take the time to slow down, breathe and enjoy real food.

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