the original kStyle blog.

Monday, March 26, 2007

I like that book, okay?

Some reviewers love to get all pissy about the book French Women Don't Get Fat. Their defensive/sarcastic commentary can be summed up more or less as follows:

  1. French women do too get fat.
  2. French women--especially the author, Mirielle Guiliano--have a psychologically unhealthy relationship to food.
  3. American women shouldn't feel all ashamed and go out and buy this Frenchie book, which is trying to taint us with its Frenchie ways.
  4. And what about the smoking? Does the book mention that French ladies are chimneys?
The trouble with these criticisms is that
  1. They were clearly penned by people who have never read the book, and
  2. If they did read the book, they missed the point entirely.

I agree that it's sad, early in the book, when Mirielle's father criticizes an adolescent Mirelle for returning from America overweight. But this is almost beside the point.

The truth is, Americans have lost their food traditions, and this fact is likely a major contributor to our National Epidemic of Obesity. And Ms Guiliano, in her book, offers to share her food traditions with us. Maybe it's true that many French women are also straying from these time-honored traditions, as the Slate critic contends. I don't see how that affects the quality of advice (and recipes, mmmm) in the book.

Although Guilano does not use the same phraseology as my favorite health and nutrition coach, who works right here in the USA, the concepts are the same. Enjoy life, enjoy food as part of life, in balance and proportion. Learn what you truly in enjoy--in food and life--and cultivate those things. Eat smaller portions mindfully and chew well. Think about what you're eating and compensate for indulgences with lighter choices and more walking. Do exercise you enjoy. Walk. Drink a lot of water. Take the stairs. Love is a great slimmer. All things in moderation. Laugh.

I don't get what these critics are so grouchy about. I don't think they've read the book.


Blogger Narya said...

The thing is, we don't HAVE a "national" cuisine, per se. Given the immigrant nature of the populace, we have a lot of imported cuisines, all of which have been freeze-dried, frozen, canned, etc.--and out of which all of the life has been sucked.

10:34 PM  
Blogger Larry Jones said...

I like this post. I can hear your voice in it, and your good sense. I don't know if French women get fat, but a long time ago my American girlfriend went to live in Paris, and the next time I saw her (five years later) she was 30 pounds lighter. Just sayin'.

2:22 PM  
Blogger kStyle said...

Narya: Yes! Plus, because of the melting pot nature of our food (so to speak), we've lost the context. I love that I can have fish tacos Tuesday and spanikopita Wednesday, don't get me wrong. But an Italian, for example, would know that fettucine al fredo is a very rich dish, best followed or preceded by a lighter meal, say, salad and grilled fish. Without that sort of understanding of a native cuisine, an American (like, say, me) might have al fredo for lunch and saag paneer for dinner, and end up fat. Like say, me. :)

The book explains this sort of eating mentality--a larger meal and a lighter meal, compensating--very well. I have to confess it was a new concept to me.

Larry: Thanks! And good for your girlfriend.

11:18 AM  

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