I recently returned from France. The trip itself was spectacular with most time spent in a 300-year-old villa near Montpellier and the Mediterranean in the heart of wine country. An introduction to Paris was part of the adventure. It all served to wet my appetite for more. What a country! Fresh morning croissants from a neighborhood bakery after morning runs through vineyards became the daily routine. I found myself enjoying saying “Bonsoir” as much as I’ve mocked my dear Julia Child for saying “Bon Appetit!” (And they really say that there if they see you eating!)
The French do things with such attention to detail. The architecture continually beckoned and enthralled, and I’ve never seen so many well-dressed, beautiful people in one place. There really are red geraniums on the windowsills and the street lamps are ornate, like something out of a storybook. The French also have gravitas. They take their time–perhaps because they have enjoyed such a rich history? They linger over meals and seem to enjoy a deep sense of community. Their sense of time and space is so different from how we operate in the West where time equals money and relaxation translates to laziness.
They also enjoy small portions.
Yes, skillfully prepared baguettes and croissants are eaten daily. The wine is plentiful and flows from spigots at every convenience store, and the cheese is spectacular. But the key is the portions. This really struck me when I returned to the states, where everything just seems…well…bigger.
Take coffee, for example. I think nothing of ordering a grande triple-shot soy latte from Starbucks. It’s my MO, especially on graduate school commuter days. But when you order a café au lait in France, it is served in a beautiful ceramic cup with accompanying saucer, sugar cubes, and spoon.
Post-France, I find myself wanting to take things slower, to downsize, and although I’m not ready for a dorm-sized refrigerator quite yet, I am ready to have more food in my life that doesn’t keep and to savor small, delicious portions.